Full text of "Dita"
D IT A
LADY MARGARET MAJENDI&
86 This Is the prettiest low-born lass that, ever
Ran on the green-sward: nothing: she does, or S66E3S,
But smacks of something greater than herself;
Too noble for this place. 1 '
OEORGE MUNRO'S SOXS, PUBLISHER^
2? TO gT VANPEWATEK STREET.
"HooT, man! wake up, Minister! Canna ye wake for
ance in your life, Minister! Mr. Malcolm! ye're speired
for frae Dunmonaigh!" Master Malcolm Farquhar was
in bed, and, wearied by two long sermons for it was the
evening of Sunday he slept soundly.
The wind roared round the bleak little manse, and the
rain deluged the windows, sweeping down the valley with
a hissing sound; but the noise had no power to wake the
weary Minister. Kerenhappuch, the honest servant, who
formed the whole domestic household of the manse, was
fain to take him by the shoulders, and give him such a
shake as could not fail to rouse him.
" There," she said,, stopping to get back her breath, as
she saw the gleam of returning consciousness in Master
Malcolm's blue eyes. " Ye're ill to waken, Minister!"
"What's the matter now, Huppie?" he said, rousing
himself, and sitting up.
"Matter! there's matter eneugh! Here's Willie come
down frae Dunmonaigh my Lady Grisel's speiringfor ye,
and she says ye maun come awa' doun as fast as ye can
" But what can it be? are they ill? can you not tell me?"
" Yon^ll just pit on your bit duds, Meeuister; I'll no be
telling ye till ye're nigh upon ready."
Knowing that to argue with his housekeeper was but
waste of time, the Minister rose from his bed, and began
to dress himself in haste, in great anxiety. He would
willingly have continued the conversation through the
closed door; but to his imploring repetition of " What
will it be, Huppie? hi\s anything terrible happened?"
Huppie vouchsafed no response whatever, and he eould
only hasten the more.
When fully dressed, he emerged from his room, a strong
hale man of fifty, with a kind but rugged countenance, Ins
gray hair brushed back under a Glengarry bonnet, and a
stout stick in his hand.
Huppie stood waiting, holding a lantern, and with her
shawl pinned tightly over her head.
'You'll not be coming with me, Huppie," said Master
Malcolm; " it's a wild, rough night!"
Huppie tossed her head, and led the way out into the
darkness. The first blast of wind, as they left the shelter
of the house, made both stagger back, and it was not till
they reached a place where the path was sheltered by trees,
that Kerenhappuch found her tongue.
'' There's been a terrible accident doun at Dunmonaigh "
she said, "and the young laird has been brought hama
man- dead than alive. Yon Willie (useless carle!) says
-hat there's nae hope noo but in the mercy of God for
ilka bane in the puir lad's body is broken."
" God help him! how did it happen?"
Again Kerenhappuch was forced to pause, overpowered
by the gust of wind and rain which met them as they
turned a corner: then she went on
"It's all Maister Ewan's fancy for yon wild brute that
Willie had christened Beelzebub. The laird himsel wouldna
ride him, I m tauld; but Maister Ewan must aye be doiuo-
what nae ither body wad dream of; and this mornino- "
This morning, the Sabbath!" groaned the Minister.
Ihis morning he must up, when ither decent folks
were at the kirk, and awa' to Strathluan, where he goes
maist days: and he rode Beelzebub."
" Hush, Iiuppie!"''
"I maun use the brute's lawfu' name," said Huppie,
obstinately " He could na have left Strathlnan three
3 behind him, when doun comes the rain, and the wind
S ai ;s the rain fly in Beelze m the black horse's eyes:
and Willie, wha saw the young laird pass by to his death
says that nae power on earth could gar him stop; he was
mad wi fury and rage, and doun Monaigh hill they came:
and the black horse had the bit in his teeth, and he
Jookit neither to right nor to left, but awa' doun the road
to the loch."
" God be merciful to us!" said the Minister.
" Ay, maister, ilka drop of blood froze in Willie's body,
for he saw what maun come. Maister Ewan held on like
the deil hirnsel, and he might hae stoppit ony ither horse
but yon at the corner. As they passed, Willie gaed siccan
a skriech that ye couldna tell what it might be, and the
young laird gied him ae look as he passed, with his hands
weel doun, and grasping the black horse's mane; bu.t when
he was come to the dyke,, he loosed his twa hands sudden-
ly, and struck hard wi' whip and spur. Weel, Willie saw
his thocht, to gar the black horse loup ower the dyke and
awa' into the loch; but wae's me? it is steep, and he
couldna stop for the loup. He struck his broad chest on
the dyke, and awa' they went thegether, till ye couldna
tell whilk was the man and whilk was the beast, till they
stoppit half in and half out of the water; and the black
horse had broken his back, and the young laird was mair
like to a corpse than a living man."
11 Pray God he may yet be alive!" cried Master Mal-
colm, hastening his steps almost to a run.
" Not that gate, Minister!" cried. Huppie, interrupting
him, as he turned down the narrow road leading to the
" Ye'll no cross the loch the night?"
" I must do so it takes two miles off the road; there
is no time to lose."
" But it's a fearsome night!"
" 1 know every stone in the loch, so do not be afraid,
Huppie; it is not the first time I have crossed at night."
They were descending the path which led abruptly to
the edge of the mountain lake, on the northern shore of
which stood Dunmonaigh Castle. They could say no
more, for their words were unheard in the whistling and
howling of the wind.
It was a good fortune that made the moon shine out
for one moment, uncertain and wavering, struggling and
wading through heavy cloud?, but giving sufficient light
to enable Master Malcolm to draw the boat out of a
sheltering hole in the rock, and begin to unloose the oars.
Huppie, whose nerves were roused to the highest pitch
of excitement, now suddenly uttered a scream.-
"What's that, Maister Malcolm what's that?" she
Down the path they had just quitted, they perceived a
figure running swiftly after them.
" It is some one who needs our help," said the Minister,
severely. He hated unreasonable fears, and he went a
few steps back to meet the new-comer.
"If you are a Christian, as you are a human being,
help me in my need!" cried a voice through the darkness,
the sound of which Master Malcolm recognized.
" Assunta!" he said; "you here? at this hour?"
"Is it you? ah, be merciful! take me to Uunmonaigh;
there are yet two miles by the road, and they tell me he is
dying!" Her voice rose almost to a scream.
" Get in and seat yourself," said the Minister, gravely;
and taking the oars, he began to row out into the lake.
Assunta cowered down into the bottom of the boat,
folding more closely in her arms the little child she
"Assunta," said the Minister, solemnly, "is it well
that you should be here now?"
" Alas! signore, to say farewell Maria santissima, help
me!" she cried, wildly.
Tlio Minister said no more. The wind lashed the loch
up with a restless, surging movement, and it needed all
his attention to row safely to land.
Lights flitted backward and forward through the long,
dark passages of Dunmonaigh; backward and forward
hurried bewildered and terrified servants; but in the sick-
chamber all was profoundly still, except for the deep-
drawn breathing of the dying man.
The little group were gathered around him of his
nearest of kin Lady Grisel, his mother, who tended him
with a rigid countenance, all her life's lessons in self-
control now summoned to her aid; beside her, her second
sun Angus, whom she loved far better than hapless Ewan.
Angus's face was strange, so dire were the conflicting
passions that altered its expression from moment to mo-
ment us his keen blue eyes were fixed on his dying brother.
Angus should have been the eldest son all agreed in
that; his was the clear intellect, the power of organiza-
tion, the steady self-respect. Poor Ewan was the ne'er-
do-weel, full of heart and affectionate, but self-willed,
weak, and extravagant. Was the birthright to be his at
last? Was fortune to smile on Angus, the dearly-prized
DITA. , 7
inheritance to fall to him, hitherto a penniless younger
son? Was he on the eve of possessing all, heir of the
almost fendal power Macmonacli inherited with his blood?
Angus strove hard to pray that his brother might yet be
spared, but tof long had he yielded to envy and covetous
longings to resist the tempter now, and his lips would
not frame the words, and his heart would not utter
Lady Grisel moved to and fro, and moistened her son's
lips with brandy, and the doctor sat with his finger on
his pulse, waiting till the deep-drawn breaths should grow
slower and fainter.
There came a soft knock at the door, and Lady Grisel
opened it noiselessly. "The Minister is come," said a
whispering voice, and Lady Grisel went out to him, and
closed the door behind her.
The great door and entrance to Dunmonaigh opened on
to the mainland, but a small side or postern door in the
great hall opened on to the loch, and from this half-a-dozen
steps descended into the water; here the boats unladed
and were fastened to large iron rings in the wall.
Master Malcolm had fastened his boat, and by the light
of the lantern which Kerenhappuch held up at arm's-
length standing in the stern, he half supported, half car-
ried Assunta up the steps and into the hall.
The Minister took off his great cloak, throwing it on a
gtool, from which, before long, the water with which the
garment was saturated streamed on to the floor.
The hall was but dimly lighted by two brass lamps
which stood on the great stone chimney-piece, and As-
sunta, faint and cold with terror, shrank into the shadow
thrown by theAvide mantel-shelf, so that when Lady Grisel
passed into the hall, she only perceived the tall figure of
the Minister and Kerenhappuch who stood by the postern.
"You have come to a bed of death, Master Malcolm,"
she said, and her voice sounded cold and passionless.
"Ay, Lady Grisel, God help the poor lad through the
valley of the shadow of death I am come to pray by him
and with him."
Lady Grisel shook her head, and her hands clasped each
" Too late," she said; " before another hour is past, he
will be called to give an account of his stewardship."
A look almost of displeasure crossed the Minister's gen-
tle face, as he said, "God is merciful!"
She turned toward the door, and motioning with her
}iand that he should follow her, led the way.
Assunta started up and followed them swiftly with the
child in her arms.
"Ewan, the Minister has come to you," said Lady
Grisel, bending over her dying son. "Have you no word
She held the candle full in his dimmed sight, she spoke
loud, but there came no response except the labored
breathing no movement of the half-shut eyelids.
" He shouldna be vexed, Leddy Grisel," said the doc-
tor, tenderly; "man-canna help him the noo;" and he
moistened the white lips again.
Noiselessly As&nnta had stolen to the door, but now she
burst from Huppie's hands, who would fain have held
her back, and, throwing her shawl back from her face,
she rushed forward to the side of the dying man. She
threw herself on her knees, and the agony of her voice
filled the astonished bystanders with momentary a\vo.
"Ewan! Ewan! it 'is I! Speak to me! look up, my
own! Ewan, I have brought my child look xip^ rny
heart! my treasure! it is I ah, speak to me!"
' Take her away," said Lady GrisePs stern voice, and
she looked to the Minister and the doctor, but neither
moved. Assunta had laid her child on the pillow; she
leant over the dying man, and her cry rose louder than
"Ewan! once more one word you never say me nay
look at me speak to me only one word! God! oh
God, have pity!"
"'Take her away," repeated Lady Grisel, hoarsolv, then
suddenly started back, for Ewan Macmonach's eyes
opened wide, his broken arms were useless, but by the
mighty strength which had made him famous on the
country-side, he raised himself in bed, and said loudly
"Mother! Assunta, my " No more: the false
strength left him and he fell back. Huppie, who had
crept in, caught Assunta in her arms and pressed her to
her breast. Lady Grisel knelt down till the death-struggle
" Lord, help now thy servant, as he passeth through
the valley of the shadow of deaih." Even as the words
of the Minister ceased, they saw it was over.
ONE by one they withdrew, drawing back as those draw
buck who feel that their work is finished. The unfortu-
nate Assunta remained kneeling by the bed, clinging fran-
tically to the clothes, to the hand they would have re-
moved from her grasp.
" Take her away," whispered Lady Grisel again, and
this time Master Malcolm obeyed. The child, still an in-
fant, began to wail; Lady Grisel started at the sound, but
the mother gave it no heed: Kerenhappuch took it from
The doctor and the Minister raised Assunta to her feet,
her eyes still fixed; they undid one by one the clinging
fingers; they carried rather than led her to the door, where
sense forsook her, and she fell insensible to the ground.
The two men laid her on a settle in the hall, and the
doctor knelt down beside her and chafed her cold hands.
Lady Grisel sat down by the fire. The wind was howl-
ing, and the rain beating outside. Angus came and
stood by his mother: he was deadly pale. There was a
profound silence, the clock ticking heavily, and the doc-
tor's movements sounded loud and distinct.
At last Lady Grisel rose: she put her hand on the Min-
ister's arm and drew him aside. " Alas!" she said, (i dis-
grace as well as grief has fallen on Dunmonaigh."
" Lady Grisel," said Master Malcolm, solemnly, " I be-
lieve her to be his wife."
" You know not what you say Master Malcolm," she
answered; " Ewan Macmonach was never married."
" Ewan never was a villain," said the Minister, firmly.
" Man and boy have I known the lad, and his heart was
as true as steel, and he was the soul of honor."
"That girl his wife!" cried Lady Grisel " the daugh-
ter of an Italian adventurer, a stranger to us and not of
our creed, would you "
"Ewan!" that faint imploring voice came from the set-
tle; con scion sues had returned to Assunta: one wild look
from her great dark eyes, and she staggered to her feet,
Lady Grisel turned to the fire, and away from the un-
happy girl. Terrible was that return to consciousness;
moans burst from her lips, and her hands were wrung to-
gether; she crossed the room and threw herself on her
knees before his mother.
"Has he told you?" she cried; "has he acknowledged
me and our child"? Pie was all I had in the wide, wide
world, and he is gone. I am his wife, laay his own wife
and he is dead. Have pity on me have pity on his
child I am Ewun's wife!"
Lady Grisel for one moment turned and stooped over
the unhappy girl, but started, for she felt Angus's cold
hand on her shoulder, and heard him whisper
"Mother, say nothing do nothing: this claim must be
" Yes," said Lady Grisel, turning to the Minister. " If
she can prove it, Master Malcolm, bring her to in e as my
son's wife till then, will you care for her?"
" Hear me, lady!" cried Assunta, once more; "you will
not cast us out. It is not for myself, it is for Ewan's
child; Ewan is mine my husband and you are his
Lady Grisel drew her gown gently from the poor girl's
grasp and rose from her seat; Assunta fell forward with
her face hidden on the chair.
Again Lady Grisel would have spoken, but once more
Angus interposed "Come away, mother," he said; and
turning to the Minister, added, " These ravings are most
painful and unseemly, Master Malcolm; may 1 beg of you
to remove this girl?"
The Minister bowed, and approached with a look of
" Come, my poor child," he said "come home with
me; to-morrow we will talk of these things."
She rose up at his words, looking blindly round her
and clinging to his hand. He led her toward the door;
then she stopped, and pressing her hands on her heart,
"Stop, Padre, I have forgotten my child."
Kerenhappuch brought her the little one, and the
Minister wrapped a great plaid round them both. He
opened the door and looked* out on the lake; the water
Burged sullenly up and down, but the moon had struggled
through wild, broken clouds, and edged them with fitful
light. Kerenhappuch unfastened the bout, and now
took the oars herself; slowly the Minister followed, sup-
porting Assunta, and with a strong thrust Huppie rowed
off into the loch; then Assunta looked back, and she
threw up her arms to heaven, uttering one agonized
cry. At that sound Lady Grisel came out on the steps,
and stood watching the boat making its slow way over the
black water, and through the sound of the wind and rain she
could hear the wailing of the little child. Then she re-
turned to her sou, and they were alone. Lady Grisel put
her hand on his arm, and looked into his face
" You believe nothing of all this, mother?" s&id An-
Lady Grisel sat down, and rested her brow on her hand
" What can I say, Angus?" -she said.
" You cannot believe it; on the very face of it is false-
" Ewan was never false."
He shook his head impatiently. "Why should he
have deceived us by concealing his marriage? Tell me
jou do not believe it. Why, look you, mother, it cannot
be true it is quite impossible; why do you not speak?"
" If it be true." said Lady Grisel, " the proofs will be
forthcoming: till then, Angus, let it rest."
"But," said Angus, faltering for one moment, "if it
should be true?"
" Then the child of this strange woman will be the
"It must be proved to be a lie: mother, why do you
not say it is impossible?"
For one moment her self-command gave way, and she
wrung her hands.
" Why, Angus, do you ask me why I say nothing? Be-
cause I see nothing on any side but sorrow and trouble,
disappointment or dire disgrace; I can bear no more
now," and she left the room.
Angus paced up and down he could not be still. Was
the golden cup just placed to his lips to be dashed thence
by cruel fortune? It was hard, bitterly hard: his teeth
ground together, and the drops stood on his brow as tho
thought pressed on him that it might be true; his very
knowledge of his brother's headstrong but honorable nat-
ure added to his feara. What did that dying effort mean
when all effort had seemed impossible? Angus's dread
grew more and more; he could scarcely suppress the agi-
tation which swelled his breast almost to bursting. He
had so longed for the wealth so lavishly spent by his
brother; it had seemed to him to be the only thing worth
having, the key to power, the stepping-stone of ainbiiion
and it had been so nearly within his grasp. When the
men had brought poor Ewan home to die. Angus had
striven hard for a natural feeling of grief. He had knelt
beside his brother and held his hand and listened to encli
groan, telling himself that they pierced his heart, that
tlu-y were agony to him; and when the doctor pronounced
his verdict, he mistook the tears that rose to his eyes
for genuine grief. But the heart knoweth its own bitter-
ness; and the tears he was shedding now the unmanly
tears drawn by the intense irritation of suspense and dis-
appointment were a thousand times more genuine.
The morning had begun to dawn, and the cold blue
light shone in on the deserted rooms; all the servants
were gone to bed save the watchers in the death-room,
when Lady Grisel stole down once more to gaze on the
face of the dead. The women drew back when she en-
tered and left her alone; the dreary light filled the room,
and outside the wind had sunk to a whispering moan.
Lady Grisel stood looking on her son, and visions
passed before her, not of the marble form on which she
gazed, but of what once had been; of blue eyes gleaming
With youth and strength of yellow curly hair of the
tall, stalwart figure, the first m hurling the stone, the
truest shot, the keenest sportsman, the idol of his men,
and now how still! Had she ever loved him as he
should be loved? Old days came back to her mind, her
husband bending over the" boy, bidding him dry his tears,
for his mother should not chide him, and she saw books
and tasks flung aside, and father and son away to the
mountains, both untaught and unlettered, but bright
find beautiful and strong: could it then be strange that
her disappointed ambition should turn from these and
center on clever, industrious Angus.
These visions fled, and she saw only the closed eyes,
the still brow, and knew that her son was dead.
A\ hat was this feeling rising in her breast? She turned
DITA. " 13
away -with clasped hands she must go anywhere away
for she felt that within her was a feeling that, were it
not mightily suppressed, would rise up into an uncon-
Sometimes when in life one is denied the power of in-
spiring love, Death, cruel or kind, comes in, bringing ret-
ribution in his hand: the living man dies, and from his
ashes Death creates a love that is all agony, and so avenges
Angus was at the door when she came out, and she put
her hand into his that he might lead her away, her heart
yearning for sympathy. As they went together, one of
the women touched Angus's arm, and held out something
to him. It was his brother's signet-ring. A strange
feeling made him shiver from head to foot as he placed it
on his finger.
ASSTJNTA had placed herself and her child unhesitating-
ly in the hands of worthy Master Malcolm, and with the
true charity of his kindly nature, he took in the friendless
woman, housed and feu her, and administered to her
broken spirit. Till the funeral of the young laird should
be over, he would not question or disturb her; and indeed
she seemed to be in no wise capable of answering ques-
tions, but sat with vacant eyes, bending over her child,
and rocking herself to and fro; but when that solemn day
had parsed by, the Minister judged it best to hear Assunta's
story before inquiries were made from Dunmonaigh.
Assunta de' Carol i was the only child of an unfortunate
political refugee. While she was still a little child,
Leone de' Caroli had been forced to flee from his native
country with her and her young mother: the latter fell
an easy victim to the colder climate of the north of Scot-
land, whither motives of economy and the necessity for
secrecy had induced them to come, and Assunta was left
to the sole guardianship of her father. She adored him;
she entered fully into the wild political schemes he formed
in his imaginative brain; she aided him in a thousand
secret correspondences, all of which, one after another,
crumbled away to be replaced immediately by still more
secret and extravagant plans. De' Caroli's family was
noble, but impoverished like himself by political intrigue,
o the exile and his child were at times in actual need.
In the midst of this poor and half-fed life, Assunta
grew up and developed into a lovely girl. Her education
had not been neglected, for her father was a well-read man,
but it had been careless and desultory. She was fond of
wandering in the woods which covered the hills at the
back of the town of Strathluan; she loved the scent of
the fir-trees and the crimson heather; and here one day
she met with Ewan Macmonach, his gun on his shoulder,
surrounded by dogs; and again and again would Ewan re-
turn, and the dogs grew to know her so well, that they
would leap and fawn on her as she came up the path; and
when yellow-haired Ewan and dark-eyed Assunta walked
slowly "through the heather, the timid deer rejoiced, for
they were safe.
Sometimes De' Caroli would join them, but of tener they
were alone and entertained each other well.
One day Ewan told Lady Grisel that he had set his
heart on making Assunta his wife: her displeasure was
indescribable. She was a stern Presbyterian; her horror
of the "idolatry of Eome " was one of the strongest feel-
ings of her religion.
Ewan was not learned, was less clever than other men,
simple in his tastes, throwing away money foolishly, act-
ing on impulse, loving the free open air, and the exercise
of his herculean limbs: he could neither plead nor argue;
his mother's bitter words and opposition hurt him her
threatened curse disarmed him. Ewan loved peace, and
in his bewildered grief he entreated Assunta to assent to a
private marriage, only to be secret for a while, a short while,
till he should have brought his mother to listen to his suit.
Assunta loved him too dearly to refuse. Love of mystery
was one of the curses of De' Carol i's character: he knew
that his health was failing; it was all-important to him
that his daughter should be provided with a home and
he promised that if they would leave all arrangements to
him, it should be accomplished with perfect secrecy, and
A very few weeks after his daughter's marriage the exile
died, and Assunta was not left desolate.
A whole year elapsed, and still Ewan had not told his
mother, and Assunta was so happy with the husband she
loved, that she cared nothing for the life of perfect seclu-
sion she led, and asked for no more. In the pride of his
youth and strength, Ewan was cut down, and Assunta
found herself left, at nineteen years old, a widow and
It was with an anxious and sad heart that Master Mal-
colm begged Assunta to tell him what she could about her
"It is all-important, my child," he said; "more im-
portant than perhaps you think it affects so many."
" Not so much as it would have done if baby had been
a boy," said Assunta, leaning her head wearily on her
"Boy! he is not a boy!" cried Master Malcolm, in the
"No; she is a little lassie," said Assunta, sadly.
"Alas! alas!" he cried, "all the lands of Dunmonaigh
to go to a girl; oh! why was she not a boy?"
"It is best so," said Assunta, " for now it will only be
to give her money, and Angus Macmonach will still be the
Master Malcolm shook his head sorrowfully. " Not
so," he said; "all, everything goes to the heir, be he male
"I did not know," faltered Assunta.
She gave into the hands of the Minister a desk in which
Ewan had been wont to keep a few treasures, which she
had sent for from Strathluan.
"Here, Padre Master Malcolm I mean in here you
will find my proofs."
The Minister turned the rusty little key in its lock, and
opened the desk. The contents were motley enough.
Two gorgeous salmon-flies, a roll of wire, all unraveled and
twisted about everything else. There was a packet marked
in Ewan's school-boy hand, "Letters from Assunta."
There was a child's india-rubber ring; and quite in the
back, a roll of papers done up tightly and fusr.enc'd round
with a green ribbon, the knot of which was carefully
sealed. A bunch of labels were fastened tothesea.l. The
Minister took them and read them one by one.
"Attested copy of marriage certificate, taken from half-
burnt register, after the burning of St. Agnes's." The
next " Baptismal cert iflcate of Margaret Griselda. " Both
were dated. The third simply " My will."
" What does this mean? ? '*said the Minister. " In what
church were you married?"
"In the Roman Catholic chapel at Strathochie, which
was burnt down last year."
"And the registers were destroyed. Is the clergyman
who married you to be found?"
"Alas, no!" answered Assunta, the tears streaming
from her eyes; " he died about a month after the baptism
of the child. He was a dear friend to me."
" Who were witnesses of the ceremony, my poor child?"
"Dead also," muttered the Minister; "and who else?"
"The sacristan of St. Agnes's he has left Strathochie
The Minister looked very grave. "What would you
have me to do?" he said; " shall I open these papers and
make an examination of them? I will act according to
"No," answered Assunta. "When Ewan put them
there, he said they were meant for his mother's hands. I
would rather that no one but Lady Grisel should break
the seal. Do you believe my story, Master Malcolm?" she
cried, suddenly. " You do believe me? Will you hc'p
" I do I believe it all. The young laird was very dear
to me," he said, passing his hand across*hiseyes; " I never
knew him deceive man, woman or child the only gift he
inherited from my Lady Grisel; but, alas! this lias been
a mad concealment. Do not fear, I believe yon, my child;"
and he laid his hand on the young widow's shoulders, and
therewith heaved a deep sigh. Was not Presbyterian
nature woful at this Papist alliance?
t Assunta cared not for the sigh; she impulsively kissed
the hand of the Minister, who withdrew it hastily.
"We must give these papers to Lady Grisel," he said.
" You shall accompany me to Dnnmonaigh to-morrow,
that she may open them in our presence with all for-
"To-morrow! so soon!" cried Assunta, shrinking.
" It should be done at once; meantime, for safety, they
had best be left in my drawer; that is but a feeble guard
Bit A. 1?
for so precious a packet," he said, looking at poor As-
sun tu's little leather desk.
"It will be safer there," she answered, looking at the
strong wooden table; and she returned up-slairs to her
little child, her one comfort and help in this dark hour of
The Minister sat by his table, with his head leaning on
his hand, wrapped in melancholy thought-. The drawer
was open, and as his eyes fell on the packet, he sighed
more heavily than ever. "It will be a terrible blow to
Lady Grisel," he reflected. " It will almost crush her
for t cannot doubt this story."
He sat thus when the door opened, and Kerenhappuch
announced "Mr. Angus, Minister," and Angus Macmon-
ach walked in. His look was so disturbed, and his face
BO pale, that Master Malcolm did not notice his omission
of customary salutation. He sat down, and rushed with
painful eagerness into the subject of his visit.
" Well, Mr. Malcolm," he said, " this story is all a lie,
is it not? Is the girl still here? You shall be no loser by
your charity. We will do what we can to help her "
" Hold," said the Minister, gravely; " this is a graver
matter than you wot of, I believe in her story."
Angus began to pace up and down. "Believe in it,
Minister! a man of sense and experience like yourself to
give credit to so transparent an imposture! you do not do
" I have known this girl and her father for many years:
they are no impostors, but well-born gentlefolks albeit
Papists," he added, below his breath.
" But Ewan "
" Your brother never did a dishonorable action, nor told
a lie in his life/' interrupted the Minister.
"Pshaw!" said Angus, impatiently. "What means
have you of knowing?"
" But I have papers by me."
"Papers!" cried Angus, eagerly. "They are not
" They are here," said the Minister, and he proceeded
to read the labels aloud.
" Give me that packet I have a right to open and ex-
" Not so," said Master Malcolm, replacing the packef
in the drawer and turning the key. " JSTo one may toucli
them but Lady Grisel, your mother, and that in the pres-
ence of Mistress Macmonach and myself."
Then Angus swore a violent oath; the Minister's face
grew pale with displeasure.
" Angus Macmonach," he said, "no evil words will un-
do what is done."
Angus flung himself into a chair.
"Would the girl hear of a compromise?" he asked.
" You can ask her," said Master Malcolm. " But no!
do not so insult her."
" Yon have no pity for me," cried Angus, suddenly
changing his tone.. "You think only of this upstart
woman and her child, who would ruin my dearest hopes "
" I do pity you, Angus," said the Minister, "and would
give the best years of my life that this had never been;
but justice must be done, though to see a Papist in your
mother's place would go near to break my heart."
" It must not, it shall not be!" cried Angus. "I will
offer her money anything rather than that."
" You must not while the matter is still uncertain; that
were the worst course you could take."
"Would to heaven that it were uncertain!" said Angus,
and ere the words had left his lips, he repented of them;
again he paced up and down. The Minister began to
wonder where this would end. when, unwittingly of who
was within, Assunta entered the room.
Seeing Angus, she stood still, clasping her child, her
large eyes fixed upon him, and in her whole manner and
rnicn were a dignity and innate nobleness for which he
was not prepared; but it was life or death to him, and he
would not spare her.
The Minister shrank back as though he were guilty; he
could not bear to see the shaft wing its way home in that
" Madam," said Angus, and his voice was low, each
word dropping with a cruel distinctness "Lady Grisel
and myself are desirous of knowing how much money will
induce you to withdraw your claims."
Assunta looked at him, and as the meaning of his words
slowly entered her mind, every trace of color receded from
cheek and lips, leaving her white as marble. Shedeigned
no answer, but he heard the click of her small teeth to-
gether. Angus never forgot the look she gave him; and
she turned and left the room.
To her dying day she spoke to no one of that scene, but
she went dowu to the kitchen, and putting down her child,
she took hold of Kerenhappuch's hands,
" Huppie," she said-*-" Huppie!" and so fell into a
violent fit of trembling and shivering, lying cold as ice,
with chattering teeth, for hours.
' So you will not let me see those papers?" were An-
gus's last words as he quitted the Minister's house.
" To-tnorrow you shall all see them, and doubts will be
set at rest," answered Master Malcolm; and Angus went
home yet more anxious than he came.
IN Dunmonaigh. old-fashioned laws were kept, and by
half-past ten every inmate of the house was in bed, and
the doors barred and chained; but on the night of the day
after Ewan Macmonach's funeral, some one was stirring
even at midnight.
The night was very fine. The loch lay like a sheet of
silver in the light of the moon; there was not a ripple on
its surface not a cloud on the purple sky.
Secretly and softly as a thief in the night, Angus Mac-
monach opened the little door, descended the steps to the
boat, and pushed off into the silent loch. Eacli little
splash, as the oars touched the water and dashed back
glittering showers, struck him as unnaturally loud, but
not a light shone in the windows of the old house; black
and silent rose the tower, the numerous turrets and bat-
tlemented walls, and high up hung sullenly half-mast
high the great flag.
Swiftly flew the little boat: Angus's foot touched the
opposite shore, ami wrapping his plaid round his breast,
he mounted the hill.
In the manse all likewise slept Assunta with her
child in her arms, worn out with weeping and sorrow.
No one h'eard stealthy movements below. The manse
was never barred nor locked up atniglit. "There are no
robbers here," Master Malcolm would say; "and should
robbers come, here is nothing to rob:" so without let or
hinderance Angus found himself alone in the Minister's
It was bitterly cold, but he wiped the drops from his
brow as he drew from his pocket a large bunch of keys
and knelt down by the table. A great luminous star
shone down on his deed, and throbbed in the cloudless
sky: between him and the eye of God was no cloud or
shadow to hide him.
lie tried one key after another would none fit? yet the
lock was a common one. Another and yet another; at
last, with a loud crack which made Angus vibrate from
head to foot, the lock flew back and the packet was be-
fore his eyes. Quickly and softly he unrolled its folds by
the light of the gleaming moon; he took out the precious
papers; he thrust in blank sheets instead; retied the
green ribbon and labels. Angus must strike a light:
how loud the match sounded! it thrilled him through and
through. All had been thought of the red wax was
pressed down, and he bent over and sealed it anew with
his brother's ring.
The baby moved restlessly in her sleep, and Assunta
pressed her closer, half opening her weary eyes.
"Hush, hush, darling! sweet little one, sleep! God
watches over the fatherless and widow."
Swiftly the little boat crossed the loch again, and there
was no movement or light in the windows of Dunmon-
ASSUXTA rose on the following day with the heavy
weight on her heart of one about to go through a painful
ordeal. She could scarcely touch the food Kerenhappuch
placed before her; and as the time for their going to
Dunmonaigh approached, she grew hourly paler and paler.
Early in the morning Master Malcolm had sent over a
messenger to Lady Grisel asking her at what hour it
would suit her to receive them, and the answer came that
at mid-day would be best; so when the sun was rising
'i the heavens they started together.
Assunta had need of the good Minister's arm, for never
had road seemed so long or so rough. An unspoken feel-
ing made Master Malcolm choose to go by the road rather
than by the loch. It seemed to his simple mind that,
humble as she might be, E\van Macmonach's wife should
enter her husband's home by its principal entrance with
Long as the way seemed at first, Assunta thought it all
too short when they stood before the great doors.
'' Courage, my child summon up all your courage," said
her kind friend; and he rang the bell, which resounded
through the house.
In one short moment they found themselves in the
presence of Lady Grisel and her son.
They were sitting at the end of a long library; the
blinds were still drawn, and the dark furniture of the
room, witli its tiers upon tiers of old books, gave it a
Lady Grisel rose from her seat when she saw them, and
saluted them gravely. She was above the ordinary height,
and moved with much dignity. Assunta's appealing eyes
found no response in hers: she sought in them for sym-
pathy, and could scarcely believe that she would find
none; there was no gentleness in the beautiful, stern face
of Ewan's mother, and the girl covered her face with her
hands and stood silent.
Angus did not rise when they came in, but sat leaning
back in his chair, studiously endeavoring to appear a mere
spectator of the scene.
Lady Grisel desired both to be seated, and then leaning
forward with one elbow on the table she began
" Master Malcolm, in a matter of vital importance such
as this is, we will lose no time in idle parley. I under-
stand that you consider that you hold proofs of my son's
marriage with this lady?"
The Minister bowed.
"This lady will not object," resumed Lady Grisel, "to
answering what questions I may see fit to make before we
proceed to examine her papers?"
" No," said Assunta, putting back the dark hair from
her brow, and raising her face; " I will answer all that
you ask me."
" At what church did this ceremony take place?"
"At St. Agnes's Catholic chapel in Strathochie."
"And who were the witnesses;"'
'My father and the sacristan.''
' And they only signed the register?"
< They only."
'What day was this?"
' The tenth of September last }'ear."
Lady Grisel glanced at a little memorandum-book she
held in her hand and slightly started: she continued
" And after the marriage did you return to Strath-
"No, we went north into the hills to Glentyre."
Again Lady Grisel glanced at her book, and saw re-
corded a letter from Ewan, dated from Glentyre, whither,
he said, he had gone for the purchase of dogs.
" Did my son make any purchases at Glentyre?" she
t( Yes; he bought Beaver and Raven, the two retriev-
"How long did you stay there?"
" Till the thirtieth of that month; when Evvan returned,
he said there were guests at Duumouaigh."
Lady Grisel sat thinking.
" How old is your child?" she said, suddenly.
"Five months old."
" And what is her name?"
" Margaret Griselda."
A momentary flash of emotion passed over Lady Grisel's
face as she heard her own name.
"This is vain talk after all, she said. " Give me the
Assunta held out the roll, labeled, and bound with its
green ribbon. She felt very faint, as though the room
whirled round and round.
" No hand but yours should open it," she said.
" Ewan trusted you, Lady Grisel, as he never could trust
Then she sat back watching the papers that held her
fate, with clasped hands and blanched lips.
Angus rose suddenly and put his hand on the packet;
he bent down, and examined it closely.
" That is without doubt my brother's seal," he said.
"That is quite right;" and he slipped the ring from his
finger and placed it over the impression of the seal.
Lady Grisel was about to open it, when one* more he
" Would it not be wiser and more just to this lady," he
said, " that there should be independent witnesses to this
Assunta bowed her head she could scarcely speak.
Lady Grisel seemed struck with what he said, and prayed
Master Malcolm to ring the bell. It seemed as if the
minutes were hours that elapsed before the butler and
housekeeper and Lady Grisel's own woman stood to-
gether in a line, adding to the strangeness of the scene.
Lady Grisel's voice did not falter as she explained
"It is said that the laird was married, and that this
lady is his wife. In proof of this she has put into my
hands these papers to be examined before witnesses;" and
she read the labels aloud.
" So great was the silence, that all started when the
seal cracked and gave way; and slowly Lady Grisel un-
wound the green ribbon. One by one the labels unloosed,
fluttered to the ground; with a loud rustle the paper un-
rolled. One glance of her eye was enough they were
blank paper. Still Lady Grisel turned them from side to
side, and backward and forward. The Minister started
up; a faint smile had come over the faces of the impartial
spectators, and Angus gave a low, jarring laugh. Assunta
had sat still with her head turned aside, and saw not the
strange looks they were casting at her; but at the sound
of the laugh she turned and rose to her feet.
Not yet did the cruel truth force itself on her belief;
she spoke not, but went down on her knees on the ground,
and scanned every sheet of the paper up and down, in-
side and out all was white and blunk. Then she sprang
to her feet with gleaming eyes; pushing back the cluster-
ing hair, and leaning against the wall, she stood with
panting breath, as stands a noble young stag at bay.
At first no one spoke, but Master Malcolm stole gently
to her side, and, would she have allowed it, would hav
drawn her hand through his arm.
Angus broke silence at last. "You see, mother," he
said, " we were wise to invite witnesses to attest these
most binding proofs. You can go now," he said to thft
butler and the women; but Lady Grisel bade them stay,
and she advanced a few steps toward Assunta, hold ing out
"Let all hear what I say," she said: "had I not seen
these with my own eyes/' and she pointed to the papers,
" I could not have believed that son of mine could have
been so base a villain."
" It is not so!" cried Assunta. " It is a lie! some one
has deceived me! You his mother, who knew well what
he was, tell me it is not true! believe the evidence of
your own heart! Ewan never deceived me! there has
been some treachery here! God! how shall I prove my
Her words came forth with panting breath, and she
pressed her hands on her heart, to control the violence of
As Lady Grisel watched her, a burning flush of shame
came over her face shame for her son; she held out her
hand again, and hot tears rose to her eyes.
"What can I do for you?" she said. "Would to
heaven I had died ere I had seen this, day!"
Assunta seized her hand tightly in both her own, which
were burning, and she looked into Lady GrisePsface with
a wild, imploring look.
" You are kind to me now," she cried. " Why have
you changed to me? why do you look at me like that?"
and she flung away the hand she held, and raising her
arms, she cried
"I swear by the God above us! by my dead husband!
by all we hold sacred in heaven or earth, that I am Ewan
One by one the servants had stolen sway; Angus had
again sunk into his chair, and was looking on very white,
hiding his quivering lips with one hand.
The Minister laid his hand on Assunta's shoulder.
" Come with me," he said.
" I am coming," she answered; and kneeling down, she
gathered together all the papers and wound the ribbons
and labels round them.
" These are all the justice that is for me," she said, and
turned to the door.
With swift steps Lady Grisel followed her and caught
"Forgive," she said, faintly,
Assunta's whole faee changed to an expression of deadly
"Forgive!" she cried; "you ask me to forgive! Then
it must be true! and he has been false to me! false as hell
itself! and I am undone!" and she turned and fled from
the house fled along the road as if terror and anguish
had lent her wings.
"Oh, follow her! follow her, Master Malcolm!" cried
Lady Grisel. " All that I can I will do for her and her
child: you will be their friend?"
As the Minister went out, Lady Grisel bent her head
and wept more bitter tears than she had done over the
burying of her first-born son.
When Master Malcolm reached home, he found Keren-
happnch waiting for him at the door.
" So he's deceived the puir lass, Master Malcolm!" she
cried; "I couldna hae believed that siccan a bonny lad
could hae so black and fause a heart. She's daft wi' the
news, puir body."
The Minister shook his head sorrowfully.
"I take it, it was a' a pretense, Minister the marriage
"Ay, Huppie, never was woman so cruelly deceived.
What is she doing now?"
"She sits by the fire and doesna move, and she neither
greets nor manes; her wits are clean gane."
" Poor soul poor soul!" and the Minister went up to
pray. He held it best to pray first and to strive to com-
But in the night, when all were asleep, Assunta took
her child in her arms and arose; she put bread in her
pocket, and wrapped a plaid round the child and fled.
Down the highroad she walked, and an unnatural strength
seemed to bear her up.
For about ten yards the highroad hung over the loch.
Assunta looked down into its quiet waters, so still and
deep and she clasped her child and thought of the rest,
of the peace, under the cold water escape for both from
this cruel world, but the child opened her eyes and As-
sunta moaned and went on her way. Some miles further
on the road she would wait for the coach which would
bear hr thence, nevtr to corn back never, never more,
THE snow had fallen thick and fast, and all the ground
round the manse lay under a white unbroken sheet.
The manse stood at the brow of a hill, bleak and very
cold without, but it was so warmly thatched that it was
comfortable enough within. The path which led up to
the door had not been swept, and the deep snow impeded
Lady Grisel's steps as she mounted the hill. Her face
had grown older and more careworn during the two
months that had elapsed since Ewan's death, and her
eyes would often look fixed and troubled. The spirits of
the past were often with her, and their faces were mourn-
ful, and their gestures reproachful, and she could not
throw off the spell. As she slowly followed the path, they
were pressing their old memories on her, and she longed
for the healer Time to speed faster on his way for an-
other year to have driven them further back. There was
no sweetness in their presence to her. She had not valued
her husband and her eldest son as all around had done;
she had felt herself to be strong and capable, and was
full of ambition; and she was young when she married;
her husband was rich, very handsome, and beloved by all,
and she looked for great things anjd found nothing.
Horses and dogs were his delight; his business to see that
all were happy and spoilt; his religion a simple and child-
like faith. She had married an ideal, a creation of her
own imagination, and the awakening made her think her-
self deceived. Her husband loved her dearly at first; but
though he was neither clever nor brilliant, he saw that
she was disappointed in him, and that she looked down
upon him, soon ceasing to love him; but, self-absorbed,
she never guessed that he too had to fight a battle with
himself, generously hidden from her knowledge. Not till
the day of his death did he show the hidden bitterness:
when she was bending over him, he turned from her with
a movement almost like a child's; he put his arms around
Ewan's neck and kissed him, and said, " We two have
loved each other," and so died, holding the lad's hand in
Afterward, when she would fain have begun a new
career for herself and her sons, she found that she was not
so rich as she had thought, so much had drifted away
large loans to poor kinsfolk, rents forgiven and lowered,
pensions, and bills backed for other men. Had she not
been justified in her estimate of one so weak? Ewau had
been just the same.
On Angus she had placed her hopes; he was clever and
shrewd he would some day do great things. But she
was but a woman after all, and seeing the intense love
that bound her husband and Ewan together, sometimes she
felt a yearning for a little of such love, but Angus was
too selfish, and she herself too reserved. When another
year should have passed, the proportions of her life would
again become true; had she been able she would have
drunk deeply of the waters of Lethe. The Minuter \vas
sitting in his little room when Lady Grisel came in. Ho
placed a chair for her by the low peat-fire and helped to
remove her fur cloak.
'" I am still very unhappy, my old friend," she began.
" Ah! the loss of such a son, Lady Grisel."
She waved her hand. "That was God's will, Master
Malcolm," she said, "and must be borne: it is about
Assuntu that I have come to you," and the tears started
to her eyes. "The older I grow," she said, "the more
does the sadness of life strikes me. God knows it is a very
sad thing. We are endowed with ambition that we may
see its disappointment, and may taste the bitterness of its
defeat; we are given the power of passionate love, and it
is misplaced, or denied, or transformed into anguish by
bereavement. The golden apples of knowledge, like the
Dead Sea fruit, turn to ashes between our teeth; our dear-
est friend may smile, and smile, and be a villain: we are
struggling through a tangled and intricate web."
"Yes, Lady Grisel; but do not forget, the workmen
work the tapestry of life from behind, weaving a thousand
unpatterned threads: not till the work is consummated,
not till heaven is reached, shall we see face to face that
every man who has labored in the gigantic loom has dene
his part in God's glorious design." Lady Grisel looked
" There are times when courage fails, Minister," she said.
"We walk by faith, and not by sight," he said rery
She was silent for one moment, then raising herself,
" I am anxious about that poor girl."
"Have yon heard from her, Lady Grisel?"
" Alas, no! it is not likely that she would write to me,
after what she said to you in Edinburgh. You are sure
of her address?"
" Quite sure; when I traced her there, she promised
always to let me know where she was."
11 Is she still in Edinburgh?"
" No, she has gone to London."
"To London! alone!" exclaimed Lady Grisel.
" She would not listen to me," he answered. " Her
one only wish and hope was to hide herself away from all
who had ever known or seen her."
"Had she money, Master Malcolm?"
" She had some, but she would not tell me how much;
it is useless to ask her to accept it, Lady Grisel she
" Alas! it is all I could do for her."
"I am thankful, dear lady, that you would be her
"She was most basely deceived, Minister; it seems
even now most hard to credit it."
"Alas!" said Master Malcolm, "who knoweth the
wickedness of the human heart?"
" But I thought I knew him so well I was deceived.
And yet, strange to say, I cannot believe it, or give credit
to the evidence of my tnvn eyes I cannot believe it."
The Minister grasped Lady Grisel's hand, and brushed
away a tear.
"God knows," he said, "that had I one inch of
ground on which to base my faith in Ewan's truth, I
would proclaim it as a trumpet-peal to heaven."
" You say that all trace of the chapel is gone, the priest
dead, the sacristan emigrated, and no one knows what has
become of the register?"
"It is all too true."
"And her papers were all blank; it is useless to doubt
" What more can I do, Lady Grisel?"
Lady Grisel hesitated for a moment, then she put her
hand lightly on the Minister's arm and said
"I hardly like to propose it to yon, but you are her
" Would you have me follow her to London?" said the
"I would; we know how utterly friendless she is: if she
will not accept the money, there are a thousand ways in
which we may help her still. You could find employ-
ment, fictitious employment from me if you will, to be
doubly paid; but this can only be done when you are,
there, when you see whether she be driven to great straits
or not. Perhaps her Italian relations may be willing to
take her home; that would be best of all."
The Minister shook his head sadly.
" She would rather die than let them know what has
befallen," he said. ''1 had not thought to find such a
passionate, determined nature in one I had supposed so
gentle. I would follow her with all my heart: but jnst
now, having been to Edinburgh but a month ago, I have
much business, and, truth to say "
The Minister hesitated, and a blush spread itself over
his hard-featured face; he could not acknowledge, even
to so old a friend, that to make such a journey was far
beyond his means: not a week before, Michael, the ne'er-
do-weel of the village, had come hack from prison, Mas-
ter Malcolm fondly hoped, an altered man. and it had
taken a round sum of money to start him afresh in a new
and congenial trade; so in spite of Kerenhappuch's loud
remonstrances and heavy sighs, the good man had had but
little meat to his porridge of late.
'* Truth to say," he hesitated, and patted his knees and
rubbed back his rough gray hair.
"Then you will not go, and seek for this poor child?"
said Lady Grisel, and there was somewhat of condemna-
tion in her voice.
"It is not want of will," he began again; " but rather
that at this moment other matters
Lady Grisel knew well the innate pride of the man with
whom she was dealing, and the thought of the real reason
flashed across her suddenly, but she was careful not to
" Well, well," she said, "you must take your own way.
The harvest has been so bad these two years, Master
Malcolm, that I fear there is much poverty abroad."
"Not so much," he answered, "for the winter is mild,
and but few of the sheep have suffered."
"There is much poverty," she insisted. "And because
I feel it so, Minister, I will desire you to spend forty
pounds for me not for the very poorest, but on such as
your discretion shall judge to be most in need; nor would
I confine my alms to the parish only, should there be any
beyond its bounds."
Master Malcolm put out his hand and shook Lady
Gnsd's without a word. When she rose to go, she said,
" When will you start, Minister?"
" To-morrow by daybreak. I will take the Strathluan
Hnppie was sweeping away the snow from the little
path up to the house when Lady Grisel came out.
"Master Malcolm looks poorly to-day," she said kindly,
as she passed the woman, and then iiuppie'.= complaints
" He's no ill, my leddy it's no that; but he eats no more
than yon puir druckit hen," and she pointed to a misera-
ble draggled fowl pecking about in the snow. "IS'cver a
morsel of meat has he touched, and I dinna ken when he
will take till't again. He's gien awa 'ilka bawbee we had
had to a ne'er-do-weel that will spond it a' in whisky and
sneeshin, deil take him! and forgie me using siccan a
word. Na, na it's no that he is ill."
"Well, Kerenhappuch, if something should come up
from Dunmonaigh, you will say that it was a very fine
beef, and that I should be glad of Master Malcolm's opin-
ion on it."
"Ay, thank you, rry leddy."
"And are you well yourself. Huppie?"
" Ou ay, my leddy, I'm just in my frail ordinar."
As Lady Grisel went on her way down the hillside, the
kind smile on her face gave place to the look of care that
had now become habitual to it. She met Angus on her
way, and he turned and walked with her. His mind was
full of new schemes and projects; he would spend his
mornings over local maps, planning new roads and bridges,
choosing tracts of moorland to redeem from the waste,
and he now begun to expound some new theory of drain-
age. But Lady Grisel could not give her mind to these
things now, as she would have done once; for always be-
tween her and her rest was the haunting look of Ewan's
blue eyes, and the thought of Assunta's despair.
Several times, craving for sympathy, she had spoken to
Angus about Assuntu, but he heard her with visible im-
patience, and with a troubled look, that she attributed
to a sensitive horror of the disgrace that had stained his
brothers name. To-day she began once more, but he in-
terrupted her, irritably
" Why tell me what I have no wish to hear?" he said,
with his cane cutting off the heads of the bracken. She
was distressed at his manner, and looking at him tenderly,
" Are yon not well, Angus?"
" I am" all right," he answered, impatiently; " but I am
harassed and worried by all I have to do."
She said no more.
THERE was a thick fog in London when Master Mal-
colm arrived, and it seemed to him that nothing could be
more dreary. He put up at a little old-fashioned hotel to
which he had been directed by a fellow- traveler, a hotel
smelling strongly of beer and bad tobacco.
He ate a badly-cooked meal placed on a small slate table
in the common room, and then asked the careless, whistling
waiter how far it was to Loam Street. The man declared
it to be at least half an hour's drive in a cab; and when
i by Master Malcolm if a cab would be very expen-
sive, laugned rudely in answering, and went out to tell
his friends the good joke.
The cab was procured, the Minister being anxious to
begin his work at once, though he was very weary from
having traveled all through the night.
It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, and the
worst of the yellow fog was over, but the lamps were still
lighted, and the damp trickled down all the walls and
made the pavement shiny and greasy.
As they were crossing one of the thoroughfares, the
cab-horse fell, and the poor, patient Minister had to turn
out into the mud and wet. In answer to his inquiries, lie
found that the horse had been out all night and was quite
worn out too much so to carry him as far as Loam.
Street. The cabman was touched by the kindness with
which the Minister spoke to him, and bade him wait
where he was, and he would send him a cab, as it was
often very difficult to find one in a London fog.
The Minister waited a long time, and he was chilled
and pinched with cold, but he strode vigorously up and
There was a broad sweeping across the road at the
corner, and in charge of it stood a little wistful street-
sweeper with his broom tinder his arm. The Minister
found himself watching the boy. Passengers hurried by
so fast that no one paused to give him anything, though
he ran backward and forward, keeping a clean, smooth
way, and the pinched little face, prematurely old, grew
whiter and smaller, and once it seemed to the Minister
that it was quivering into tears. As he came up to the
crossing, the boy only hung his head he had given up
" Here, my boy," said Master Malcolm, and he held out
to him a real silver shilling. The little face brightened,
and glowed with joy: he plied his broom vigorously, and
poured a shrill, joyous whistle into the air.
The cab rattled up, and the boy flew to open the door.
The Minister smiled at him, and said softly
"Never say die, my laddie the Lord will provide."
Back went the 'boy to the crossing; and on other rainy
days and heaven knows some days will be dark and
dreary the words of that man with the sweet smile,
would come into his mind "The Lord will provide."
The cab rattled on, over the stones. It seemed a long
and weary time before it stopped and the man opened the
Master Malcolm's heart beat as he rang the bell. He
had ro wait some time before it was answered by a very
shabby-looking woman, who looked sharply at him as if
to inquire his business.
When asked whether Mrs. Carrol was there (for
that was the name poor Assunta had assumed) the land-
lady informed him that she was gone had not, in fact,
stayed there more than a fortnight-. The woman invited
Muster .Malcolm in, ami sitting down opposite to him,
suid she .would answer anything he chose to ask, for she
had taken a fancy to the poor young lady, and would be
only too glad to hear of her weli'are. She had been very
ill there, the landlady said delirious in her mind at first,
and then -so weak that she could not ?et foot to the ground;
and before she was well enough to do so, she had insisted
upon going, for she had to pay the doctor's bill, and her
lodging, and she could no longer afford such lodgings,
" which they are very good, though I says it that
shouldn't," said the woman.
" She kissed me, she did," she continued, rubbing her
eyes with the corner of her pocket-handkerchief, "and,
thanked me for all the trouble I had been at with the
baby on my hands. She was a dear young lady."
" But can you tell me where she is gone?" said the
" Yes, I think I could; but I must think. It was Bill
as took her box in a barrow, and whether it was 8 or
whether it was 3, I am not sure; but a respectable street it
was, and the lodging was kept by the first cousin of Mrs.
Smith (that's our baker), and she married into the up-
noisteiing line, and took a nice house, and lets it cheaper
than I can do, bring a widow; and she went there, I am
sure, because I know that Bill took her box; but whether
it is 8 or 9 I can't say."
" And the street?"
"Deal Street; it is a poor neighborhood, but respect-
" Had she any means of making her own livelihood?"
asked the Minister, anxiously.
" She taught Miss Smith, leastways she was to have
taught her, French and Italian, for five shillings a- week;
but what with her going away, and what with her illness,
that beginning were not gone on with, that I know of."
Master Malcolm thanked the woman for her kindness,
an,i went out again into the wet street, for the fog luuJ
now changed into a thick, drizzling rain.
"To Deal Street," he said; and the cabman mounted,
wfth much grumbling, into his seat, and tucked his
horse-cloth tighter round his knees,
34 BIT A.
They tried Xo. 8 first, then K"o. 9; Mrs. Carrol wai
not known at either house.
The cabman advised trying 18 or 19, both fruitlessly;
at last, in despair, they tried 28, and this time were so
far successful that they found that Mrs. Carrol had been
The Minister shivered as he saw the dirty, poverty-
stricken look of the place. The landlady, an aggressive-
looking woman, with her black hair twisted into curl-
papers, led the way sharply into her private parlor, a
small room, with a huge-patterned drab paper, ana two
vases of wax-flowers, veiled in coarse yellow muslin.
She began talking at once.
" If you're the friends, sir, you ought to look after her
bette" that's all 1 can s?y. Here she comes, that weak
and ill, as I thought she would, have died on my hands;
but when I asked my rent, she up and paid me a week in
advance, which, as she had no reference, is customary,
But the Minister cut short her endless flow of talk, ask-
" Can you tell me her present address?"
"Indeed and I cannot; which it's doubtful whether
any one hereabouts can, for no one notices where them
goes as have paid up every penny they owes, foi a real
lady she was."
*' Why did she leave you?" asked the Minister, his
heart sinking very low.
" Well," began the woman, twisting up her apron,
" ?he was a deal of trouble, and the baby was a handful,
just begun with its teething."
" You sent her away?"
" No not that exactly; but I put on sixpence for the
child, and its fresh milk came to tenpcnce,"
"So it was want of money drove her away," said the
Minister; " had she no means of support?"
'She went out, day after day, after them advertise-
ments, but nothing ever came of it, and that is how we
come to have such a deal of trouble with the child. One
day when she came in she found it alone, and crying, the
perverse little viper, which it hadn't been alone ten min-
utes; such language as she used, my word, we ain't ac-
customed to that style of tiling, not Mary Ann and me,
DITA. ' 35
But as she had paid her week, \ve could do nothing till
the time was up. After that she always dragged that
heavy child wherever she went, and at last was brought
home by a policeman in a cab, which she had fainted in
the street. I don't call that respectable myself."
The Minister could hardly speak for sorrow and indig-
nation he shook the dust off his feet as he crossed the
threshold of the woman's house.
Where should he go next? how should he pursue his in-
quiries? He had no resource but to confide to the cabman
that he was in search of a lady who could not be found;
and he was much astonished by the man putting his finger
on the side of his nose, and saying, with a wink
"Now it's all square, ain't it? you ain't a peeler in dis-
" A what?" said the bewildered man.
" You ain't a detective? for, if you are, darn'd if I'll
" Oh. no, no! I am a minister of the Church of Scot-
land, and in search of a stray lamb of my flock."
The cabman, smiling at the old-fashioned manners and
dress of his employer, threw himself into the search.
They went to all the petty tradesmen near, consulted cab-
men who might have remembered carrying a lady, and her
child and box, somewhere: but all in vain. Assunta was
lost in this huge London wilderness.
At last, weary and disheartened, Master Malcolm re-
turned to his hotel. The common room was now full of
men, ta-lking and smoking, and he made his way up to his
He sat thinking gloomily, when an idea suddenly flashed
across him. Assunta had promised always to send him
her address; that she had delayed writing from Deal Street
might be accounted for by the fact that she remained
there so short a time; but in all probability a letter was
waiting for him now at his own manse, in the very north
of Scotland, telling him where she was, perhaps that she
had already arrived at utmost need. Master Malcolm sat
down and wrote at once to Keren happuch desiring her to
forward his letters, should there be any; and bitter were
his regrets when he considered that at least six days must
elapse before lie could hope for an answer.
He thought that no time during the whole course of his
36 BIT A.
life had seemed so long as the next week, for it was seven
days before the answer came; he had no occupation but
wandering about the streets, or reading the papers.
He strove hard not to lose time, and whenever lie saw
"To Let" printed on the windows, would go in and ask
hopelessly for Assunta; and lie would wander in the parks,
hoping that her good angel would cause her to bring her
child out for change of air; but he always came home
The letter arrived at last. Master Malcolm was right in
his conjecture. She had written to him, and as he read
her letter, his heart died within him.
" My only friend," she wrote, "sorrow has broken down
my pride; I am changed now. Oh send me money, for I
I now not where to turn! Tell Lady Grisel that I accept
her offer it is for Ewan's child. I am very ill, so ill that
I can scarcely see to write, but they are very kind to me
and to baby. Send me " the letter broke off abruptly,
and the direction was written in a strange hand.
And this was a week ago nay, more ten or eleven
days ago. Master Malcolm seized on his hat and rushed
down stairs, calling loudly for a cab.
lie drove off to Whittle Court, bribing the cabman to
drive with speed.
It was a long ride, and the street that they drove down
at last was narrow and dirty. Damp clothes hung out of
the windows to dry, and dirty children were making mud-
pies in the road.
No. 60 turned out to be a sort of carpet-shop, where
rugs and brushes were hung all over the outside; and the
Minister had to pick his way through piles of chairs and
iron bedsteads. The atmosphere was choked with dust.
The shop-owner, a fussy little man in a black apron, di-
rected him up stairs and to the topmost story he went,
where he was received by a clean -looking woman, who
at his first inquiry burst into tears.
" So you have come after her, poor lady, and might
have helped her." she sobbed; " and she so ill."
" Can I see her at once?"
" Law bless you, sir! see her? She has been gone this
" Where them must go who has none to help them,"
said the woman; " why, she has gone to the workhouse."
Assunta, the proud Assunta, come to this. Master Mal-
colm felt stunned as he hearfl the news; he hurried down
stairs, the woman gave him the direction, and he was
once more on the road.
" Poor Assunta! poor child!" he murmured to him-
self; " what a piteous fate!"
Now the cab rattled up to the door, and stopped, and
Master Malcolm got out. He asked for the matron, and
was received by her in her business room.
She was a kind-hearted woman, and most anxious to do
all in her power to help those under her charge.
" Let me see," said she, rapidly wetting her thumb,
and turning over the pages of her thick book of cases.
" A young woman taken in on Thursday the eleventh.
Ah! here it is. Mrs. Carrol and child, brought in by Dr.
Monk he is our doctor, sir; put in Infirmary No. 14.
Ah, sir!" the kind woman stopped and looked at him.
"Can I see her?" he said, eagerly; "she has friends
who have only just heard of her distress."
"I a.n afraid, sir, her friends are too late."
" Too late?"
" No. 14 died at twelve o'clock last night."
The Minister covered his face with his hands. "Can
I see her?" he said, after a moment's pause.
The matron nodded and led the way. Able-bodied
inmates were sweeping the stairs, and she spoke sharply
to one or t\vo as she passed. A strong smell of ironing
from the laundry below, filled the air. She opened the
door of a little room apart and ushered him in.
Under a coarse white sheet lava rigid, still form. The
matron raised its folds, and he looked for the last time on
the calm, dead face of Assunta.
He could not weep over the storm-tossed life, now en-
tered into rest; but he asked leave to stay and pray, and
the matron left him alone.
IN E^gar Street, Solio, was a well-known book-shop
kept by Pairdon Brothers. One of two brothers, Andrew
Fairdon, attended to the business; the other had gone out
to Australia many years ago, and having sent home money
to put into the business, honest Andrew had added
" Brothers" in large gold letters to the inscription over
the door. Lovel Fairdon had almost faded from the re-
membrance of his English relatives. The tsvo brothers
in former days had been close companions and friends,
both intelligent, both ambitious. Lovel's ambition took
a practical, money-making turn; Andrew's was quenched
by his falling in love, which caused him contentedly to
take up his father's trade, and sell books in Edgar Street,
The girl whom he married had a little dower of two
hundred pounds, very profitable to the business. She
was somewhat beneath him in position, far below him in
education, the only child of a small tenant-farmer. She
had lived all her life among poultry and cows, and was
easily attracted by the clever young Londoner, who came
down frequently for a country Sunday; and her shy, gen-
tle manner, and the fresh sweetness of her beauty, proved
to him an .irresistible attraction.
The shrewder Lovel tried to talk away his brother's
fancy, but Andrew's heart had always been better than
his head, and he triumphantly brought home his young
wife from the green open country to gloomy Soho.
Nannie pined at first, as was but natural. Andrew
was too clever for her; he was always talking of things of
which she knew nothing always writing scraps of poetry
that she could admire, though she could not understand.
Sometimes he would be angry with her for her want of
power of criticism; discriminating admiration he called
it not blind incense. What he longed for was, that she
should praise it line by line, not all in a lump. But as
they grew older together, he became satisfied to talk to
her, feeling her purring acceptance of his marvelous
cleverness and apt quotations just the soothing balm
needful for the irritable poetical temperament. Andrew
was great at seeing himself in all imaginable attitudes-
now as a deep and unfathomable man of letters, but
oftener as a misunderstood genius. He mistook his diffi-
culty in finding rhymes for the workings of genius, striv-
ing in agony to embody its deep thoughts in language.
" The poet's eye, in a fine frenzy rolling," was often in
his mind, and at such moments he would unbutton his
waistcoat, which the expansion of his soul made too
But with all his absurdities he was a good and amiable
man, and few couples loved each other with a more har-
monious love than Andrew Fairdon and Nannie his wife.
Nannie had but one real trouble in the wide world now
that she hud outlived her transplantation into the busy
hum of the London streets, and that trouble was, that
the one only little child God had sent her, had remained
but one short week in the world, and had been laid to
rest in the green church-yard of her own home. Some
portion of her heart had been buried with it she was wont
to say, and it was years before the pain softened; not that
she rebelled in spirit, but that there was something un-
congenial in her life, something undefined even to herself
a want of fields, and flowers, and the music of birds,
and the healthful hard work of her youth; and this want
for one short week was filled up by the sweetness of
motherhood, only to leave a darker void behind. So
Nannie's pretty face had a sad look, and very early there
were threads of silver in her fair hair. Mrs. Fairdon's
great delight was to do what good she could. The parish
workhouse was not far from the shop, and she had made
acquaintance with the busy matron, Mrs. Brown, the
consequence was that she was often allowed to visit the
old people and the infirmary, and her visits were hailed
with delight meaning, as they often did, packets of tea,
good home-made cake, and sometimes baskets of flowers.
More than one poor friendless waif of society owed to her
that most precious of all gifts, a fresh start on coming
out of the house. In any out-of-the-way case Mrs. Brown
was wont to seek sympathy and even advice from Mrs.
It had been so when poor Assunta had been brought in
almost dying, and reduced to such poverty that she had
sold all the warm clothing she had possessed.
Assunta never again raised her head from the pillow.
The baby was a strong, healthy child, and throve well
even on workhouse nursing and food. It u?ed to lie con-
tentedly cooing for hours by its dying mother, at once the
comfort and agony of her heart. That no answer came
to her letter seemed to Assunta to mean that Lady Grisel
had withdrawn her offer of help, that the Minister shrank
from telling her such grievous news, that she was deserted
One day Mrs. Fairdon (who Tisited her every day)
found her in such grief that, melting into tears herself,
she implored her to make her indeed her friend and con-
fidant; and Assunta told her all her miserable story, only
omitting the names. As she dwelt on Ewan's goodness,
his beauty, and his love for her, Mrs. Fairdon saw well
the blow that the suspicion of his treachery must have
been; but she stifled the exclamation of indignation that
rose to her lips, fearing to add to Assunta's anguish by
confirming- the dread, only half admitted by the unhappy
girl, that Ewan had indeed been false. She soothed and
petted her; then burst forth the poor mother's terror for
her child what would become of her? she was so utterly
When Mrs. Fairdon left her bedside and went home a
dazzling vision was playing before her eyes. Would An-
drew allow her to adopt this child as her own. Once, half
in joke, he had told her that if she could find a baby
without one single tie in the world, she might have it,
and the thought had been with her ever since.
The bookseller had not finished his work, but he was
standing in the tiny back-yard of his house washing his
hands at the pump, and singing merrily to himself Autol-
"Jog on, jog on, the footpath way,
And merrily hent the stile-a;
.A merry heart goes all the day,
Your sad tires in a mile-a."
When he saw Mrs. Fairdon's comely face now full of the
keenest anxiety, he went up to her and kissed her, say-
ing, "How now, sweet wife?"
Shakespeare was his mood just now, and he could
scarcely speak plain English.
With eager haste she told him her story, holding him
tight by one of the buttons of his coat. She had found
the baby at last! Might she have it? As she turned her
tender blue eyes up to his, Andrew read in them that in-
describable longing of the childless mother, that unsatis-
fied emptiness of heart and arms that till this moment
he had scarcely realized, and had not noticed for years.
"It is such a clear little thing!" she said; "a sweet
little winsome thing with golden hair. It would be a joy
and comfort to you, Andy, and you conld teach it your
fine poetry, and educate it to understand as I never could
no, not if I live to a hundred, my dear."
The man's eyes sparkled there was something very in-
viting about the idea of this child to bring up.
'*' You are sure that nobody will be wanting to claim
it?" lie said, jealously, as though it were already his own,
" If anybody else wants it, I'll not lift a finger to take it;
my right must be undisputed."
" It has neither father nor kinsfolk to own it, and the
poor young mother is dying; she is an Italian."
"An Italian! hum!"
" But she has lived all her life in Scotland," cried Mrs.
Fairdon, " and speaks English as well as yourself."
" It might be called Juliet," muttered Andrew, and his
wife caught at the words.
''Then I may? I can tell her that the child shall be
"Yes; but, my dear" he was surprised to find his
soft-hearted wife sobbing aloud on his breast; he went on
kindly " my dear, I will leave all to you: we must not
have it if it is claimed by others; make sure of this first."
"I will I will, thank you, Andy how can I thank
Before half her thanks were over, she had gone back to
tell the news to poor Assunta.
Andrew, meanwhile, unmindful of the cold, drew a
rush-bottomed chair from the kitchen to the yard, and
sitting down, smiled as he lit his pipe and thought of the
golden- haired child playing about round his knee its
dear little voice making the old shop resound with the
noise; and he planned a swing between two linen-posts,
and wondered whether in the midst of his piles of books
were any fitted for very little children.
When Mrs. Fairdon reached the workhouse, Assunta
was almost past speaking. The people lying in their rows
of beds ranged against the buff-plastered Avails were all
silent, for they knew that one soul from among them was
When Mrs. Fairdon knelt down and took the dying
girl's hand in hers, and swore to be a mother to her child,
the look that dime over her face was of indescribable joy
and thankfulness; she held her hand tightly in hers, and
never took her eyes from Nannie's face, till the end came
about twelve o'clock.
"When Xannie came home, Andrew was quite grieved
that she had not been able to bring the baby back with
her; he longed to see it now that it was to be his, and was
almost cross to his gentle wife.
VERY early on tlpe following morning, Mrs. Fairdon
was at the workhouse as early us she could get away from
her household cares at home.
It was visiting day, and the friends of the patients were
in the infirmary. The nurse, who was very busy, just
told her that No. 14's baby had been taken to the old
people's ward to be out of the way, and that one old
woman had been told off to take care of it. She hurried
away to the large ward, and found that also to be full of
visitors. Eager as she was, she found time to stop at one
bed with a cheeifiil " Good-morning, Mrs. Frank," know-
ing that that poor old woman had lost every friend she
possessed in the world, and always spent visiting days in
softly crying to herself.
The "good-morning" in that kind voice seemed espe-
cially welcome to-day; and though Mrs. Frank only nodded
awkwardly, she muttered, "God bless you, ma'am!"
As Mrs. Fairdon hurried through the rooms, she sud-
denly started and shivered she saw the baby, her own
precious baby, in the arms of a stranger.
The sky through the windows above the beds was gray
and dim, for the day was cloudy, but one ray of brilliant
white light shone round the rugged face of Master Mal-
colm, as he sat on a chair between two white beds, with
Assunta's golden-haired child in his arms. He was look-
ing down on it tenderly, with deep compassion, and the
baby was gazing up into his face with the solemn dignity
Mrs. Fairdon's heart died within her. Had he come to
claim it? perhaps to take it away! What should she do?
She went swiftly up to the Minister and held out her arms
for the child. He rose to his feet, but showed a moment 5 !
reluctance to part with it.
"Will you not give it me, sir?" she said, piteomly.
"It is mine."
" Yours! 1 tvas told that it was the child of a friend of
mine who lias been called away from this world," he said,
with a sigh.
"Oh, may I not have it?" entreated poor Nannie, with
tears in her eyes. "The poor mother gave it to me it is
mine. I was with her at the last, and I swore to bring up
the little one as my own."
The Minister looked at her earnestly; the stamp of
goodness was on her face unmistakably, but still he hesi-
tated. "You take upon yourself a great responsibility,"
he said, " to bring this little lamb to her Heavenly
"With His help, I am not afraid," said Mrs. Fairdon,
reverently. Then the Minister laid the child in her arms,
saying-, '-Take her, then, in Goal's name."
Many important matters had to be settled, and several
times Master Malcolm found himself in the back sitting-
room of Fairdon's shop, arranging things with him. He
could not feel justified in delivering the child wholly into
these good people's care until he should have had time to
communicate with Lady Grisel, whose name heforebore to
mention; neither did the Fairdons seek to know it. The
Minister thought that some payment ought to be made to
help to meet the expenses of its support; but this Andrew
absolutely declined. He was immovable; either the child
must remain entirely in the hands of its unwilling rel-
atives, or must be delivered over body and soul to him, to
bear his name, and to be to him as a real daughter, her
kindred resigning every claim.
Master Malcolm learned from the matron and others
how completely he might rely on the excellence and good-
ness of the worthy couple; and it was with a lighter heart
than he could have believed possible, that he wrote to tell
La.ly Grisel that a home, in every way so desirable, had
offered itself for the little orphan.
The answer came at length: the waiting had seemed
very long to the anxious Mrs. Fairdon. Lady Grisel was
willing to renounce all claim, once and for ever, to the
guardianship of the child. She thanked God that so good
a home was found, and that now the piteous story of poor
Assunta need never be further known; and she said that
she never could express in words her gratitiub for all that
the Minister had done.
So Master Malcolm solemnly blessed the child, and
went home again to the north, and Mrs. Fairdon took
possession of her as her own and brought her home.
There was quite a little fete made when the baby ar-
rived. The bookseller and his assistant, a lad -of nineteen
most faithfully attached to his master, decorated the house
with holly and ivy, and composed a large "Welcome" iu
holly-berries to nail over its new bed. Andrew was most hap-
py and fussy over the ordering of the daily cans of new milk
and crearn, very full of its new clothes and his plans of
education. He insisted on going with his wife to one
baby -shop after another, choosing hoods and pelisses, and
when Mrs. Fairdon would fain have chosen sober gray, in-
sisted on pale blue and satin quillings nothing was too
good for the adopted child.
The evening after its arrival, Andrew came out of the
shop armed with an immense Shakespeare. He began at
once turning over the leaves. '' Shakespeare has said,
' What's in a name?' my dear wherein he made, to my
humble thinking, a grave mistake. A name! why, what
\.ere Portia if her name were Jane, or an Ophelia named
Martha? wheie were the sorrows of a Danish Prince
Thomas, or the despairs of a Moorish William? No, no.
such a Portia would only have been a sentimental middle-
class female such an Ophelia a whining milkmaid. Do
you not see the difference, wife?"
" Yes, 'indeed,'' answered Nannie, composedly.
"A name," he went on, "adds to individuality aa
much as, or more than, the expression of the face or the
cut of the clothes. Why, nature is so strong, that a wom-
an who has been named unsuitably, in nine cases out of
ten has her name changed. A gentle Margaret will per-
force be Meg, Peggie, Minnie, or other such; while a
fierce nature will bear the name of Phoebe or Celia as ill
as a charger the plowshare."
" Quite true," said the admiring Nannie.
"So, wife, it is a most important thing, the name we
give our child; remernber.it stamps her with a certain
character for life. We will have none of your foolish
names; there are enough of black-haired Blanches and
flaxen Roses already in the world: her name must be sig-
*' Susan was my mother's name," said Mrs. Fairdon,
" Susan, yes pretty, rural, and simple an affection-
ate name. No, my dear, it is a good name, but it does
not reach my idea of what is suitable."
"She lias been baptized Margaret Griselda."
"''The very thing," cried Andrew, fretfully. "We
could not have thought of finer, nobler names; but for
the very reason that they are her names, they must not be
her names. Griselda! beautiful! I should have thought
of that at once."
" It seems a pity," said Mrs. Fairdon, going on with
her work: in truth she little cared what name it would
please her husband to give the child; to her the rose by
any name would smell as sweet.
" Shakespeare," went on Andrew, had a marvelous gift
in naming. Does not Juliet bring before your mind the
gorgeous southern beauty of the ci ild of Capulet, and
Beatrice all wit and brilliance? I had thought of Juliet,
but her head is all covered with rings of golden hair.
She is very pretty, Nannie. I shall not be away long; I
am going to look at her little face."
Mrs. Fairdon quietly went on sewing: it was pretty to
see the entire look of content and happiness on her sweet
Presently Andrew stole back on tiptoe and said, " She
moved in her sleep, Nannie, and when I put my ringer iu
her little palm, her hand closed on it tightly. She kept
me at least live minutes, for I was afraid of wakening her
by taking it away. God bless her! now do not speak,
but let me think."
And leaning his head on his hand, Andrew Fairdon
remained silent for perhaps a quarter of an hour, turning
over the leaves of Shakespeare very slowly.
Then he rose and said gently, " Perhaps if we have
prayers first, I may think afterward of a name, Nannie."
Mrs. Fairdon rose and folded up her WDrk, and sum-
moned the servant-girl. Andrew read a chapter from the
Bible, then a few short collects. When the girl was gono
he turned to his wife smiling.
" I have it, Nannie," he said. te A beautiful name, a
rare name, and one, alas I too well suited to the little one."
" What is it?'' she said, eagerly.
" Is it not heathenish?" she asked. But Andrew gave
no heed: he went on, "'No name of all Shakespeare's cre-
ations brings sweeter thoughts to the mind; there is not
one so full of grace and poetry as Perdita," and he went on
murmuring to himself
" When you speak, sweet,
Td have you do it ever: wheu you sing,
I'd have you buy and and sell so; so give alms;
Pray so: and, for the ordering your affairs,
To sing them too. When you do dance, I wish you
A wave o' the sea, that you mitrht ever do
Nothing but that; move still, still so, and own
No other function. Each your doing,
So singular in each particular,
Crowns what you are doing in the present deeds,
That all your "acts are queens."
So it was decided that the little orphan, poor Assunta's
golden-haired child, should be called Perdita.
RIGHT happy are those who in after-life can look back
upon a childhood unclouded in its cairn and peace. Little
Perdita's life was a.s sweet and happy as are the lives of
little lambs and little birds nay, sweeter, for storms, and
birds of prey, and many terrors, burden the lives of even
the youngest animals; but from all little Perdita, was
sheltered, perhaps fenced round by the wings of an angel,
whose especial task might be to guard the orphan baby.
It might seem as if a crowded street in London, a little
paved courtyard, into which tlte kitchen door opened,
were little like a Paradise; but a child requires so little,
it has such a wondrous gift of imagination: a little pillow,
stuffed with an extemporized face, will be as precious to
it as the finest wax doll; a broken hobby- horse will carry
as doughty a knight as the noblest rocking-horse; and
chairs will make capital rail way- trains, and broom-sticks
save drowning sailors, with a stool for a rock.
Perdita bad one possession that was actual, not an
idealized treasure one for which many a rich little child,
with beautiful toys, would have longed, this was a little
Maltese dog, excessively small, and covered with white,
woolly curls. The dog lived with her, ate the portion
she gave it of her own bread and milk, and never left her.
She washed it, and dressed it in pink and blue bows, and
talked to it about everything she had to talk about; and
whenever she went out with her adopted father, Fluff ac-
companied them. The little one grew and throve wonder-
fully. She was very fair, and her hair kept its beautiful
golden hue; but her eyes grew darker and darker, and of
a deep soft brown, the only features she inherited from
her Italian mother.
Andrew and Nannie loved the very ground she trod on
she became the center of their thoughts and plans. He
would have spoilt her, without doubt; but Nannie was
wise and firm, and always did her best to counteract the
spoiling with necessary reproof, which, however, was such
a pain to Andrew, that Nannie would feel ruefully that
she was punishing her husband far more than the child.
Fluff was a great trouble when they walked in the Park.
He would wind his long pink ribbon round the legs of the
passers-by; he would bark fiercely at dogs that could easily
have crunched him, bones and all, into a handful of dust;
but Andrew minded nothing for Dita's sake. Dita was
the name little Perdita had given herself when she first
began to speak. That first sentence was an era in her
history. They were sitting in the Park on a bench, Mr.
and Mrs. Fairdon, with Perdita between them, when a
man came by with three puppies in his arms. The child
flew after him, and caught one in her little hands, hold-
ing it strained tightly to her flushed cheeks, and looking
imploringly at the owner.
"Dita have it, dada!"
Of course it was bought, and called Fluff, and Dita
never lost her intense attachment to the little animal.
Perdita's only playfellow was the young shopman, who
devoted every spare moment to her service. He was a
strange lad, awkward and ungainly in appearance, with
large hands and feet, slouching gait, and wistful eyes.
Long ago his master had called him the melancholy
Jaqucs, and the name hud stuck to him ever since. He
had been left fatherless some years before, and his mother,
reduced to extreme poverty, had found it hard to give the
boy even the commonest education; but even at ten years
old his tasie for reading amounted to a passion. His
father had been a village schoolmaster a feckless being,
tormented by the boys, ridiculed and teased. He loved
learning for learning's sake, and would speak with some
pride of the scholastic tastes of his few relations: it ran
in the blood, he would say; but, alas! so also did ttie
tendency to go down in the world, to get poorer, and to
dia young and the widow was left in great difficulties.
The br>y struggled against every difficulty, devoured every
book in the village library, and hungered for more; his
mother managed to make her living by washing, and,
wisely seeing that it was impossible to content Jaques by
a country trade, sanctioned his going up to London, with
a recommendation from the village schoolmaster. Jaques
was fortunate enough to please Andrew Fairdon, and he
entered upon his duties with an enthusiasm that won his
master's heart. Tie was among books precious books; he
never ceased working till he made himself acquainted with
every shelf, and the books added to the stock were
generally bought by him. for Andrew was clever enough
to see that Jaques soon knew more of his trade than he
Before she could walk alone, Perdita treated him as her
slave. His holidays were spent in being her cat, her
elephant, or her horse; and one day Mrs. Fairdon had to
run out and stop the game Dita had invented, which was
filling a doll's can at the pump and pouring it over his
At one time it became impressed on Andrew's mind that
he was made for great things, that it was his destination
to achieve a great literary success. He had now lived for
years in a Shakespearian atmosphere, and that made him
determine that the first attempt should be a play, after
the manner of Shakespeare.
Perdita was five years old. and very pretty. She was
Andrew's constant companion, sitting all the morning
curled up in a corner of the shop, with Fluff or her doll,
or trotting by his side out of doors when he was free.
It was a time of discomfort to Nannie when her husband
began his literary labors; he almost deserted the shop,
leaving the care of it to Jaques during the greater part of
the clay, and sat in the parlor passing from one tremen-
dous mood to another during the composition of the plot.
Perdita was not alarmed she was too much accustomed
to his ways: but now and then, if without any reason hut
the joy of some inspiration within him, Andrew would
leap up, strike the table, and utter a laugh of triumph,
Fluff would rush forward in a paroxysm of shrill, excited
barking, and then Dita laughed also, and they svould all
kiss and go back to their corners.
Comedy and Tragedy held the author between them as
they held the great Garrick of old. Tragedy, perhaps,
was the more attractive of the two more sublime; but
there was more play of fancy in Comedy more scope for
graceful imagery,, in which Andrew considered himself to
The plot was a considerable difficulty; it seemed to him
that if he had but a plot, his pen would flow readily. His
genius scorned advice, but was open to insinuated sug-
gestions, and one morning he said
"Nannie, were you to set yourself to invent a story,
what would you say?"
She knew what he wanted.
"A story of a foundling child would be touching and
sweet would it not, dear?"
"ILi! alone in the world sans father, sans mother,
sans sister, sans brother. A soliloquy. There must be A
fool, and a king or a duke, and some female confidante
two ladies, one rich the duke's daughter."
"Jaquy," said Dita, sitting on the little three-legged
stool in the yard "Jaquy, be a horse!" He went down,
on his knees.
" This child's talk may be the making of my play,' 1
murmured Andrew, sitting at the open window biting his
Di!a had climbed on to her patient horse's back and
was thumping him hard.
" My heroine goes out a-hunting," he noted down; " is
bold and somewhat merciless she will need a Petruohio,
"Now jump! jump! jump!" shouted Dita. "Jump
high, and me tumble off!"
60 . DITA.
And she rolled off round his nec\ on to the ground,
and pushing her curls off her little rosy face, she cried
"Now me dead!"
Andrew wrote down might and main: the very way to
get the fair lady under the roof of the duke, was to have
her thrown from her horse while hunting in the foresc,
taken up for dead, and carried into the midst of the
court. He looked up for more inspiration, but Dita was
tired of being dead, and was running about on all fours
with Jaques after her, shouting
"la bunny, and you be a dog and bite me!" and Fluff
was half mad with excitement.
Mrs. Fairdon stood watching at the door, and she did
not stop the game to-day, because it was Saturday, and
Dita had on a dirty frock on purpose.
When she went in, Andrew had laid down the paper
with a sigh of relief
" I have got my first act, Nan," he said. " That
child is a genius, and has brought me inspiration. I feel
now that my poor brain wants rest; let us take a walk
and make Jaques go with us."
"I knew she would be help to you," said Nannie,
kissing Dita as she captured her. " Bless the child,
I must change everything she has on; and for you,
Jaques. brush yourself, aud put on a clean tie, and then
we'll go out;" and she carried off the laughing and kick-
THE next day Andrew tried in vain to make Dita play
in a Suggestive manner; she would insist that her doll was
ill, and watched it with her finger on her lips. So far
this was good, for it suggested to Andrew a long illness
to his heroine iu the ducal palace; and he determined to
write his first act, and trust to the future for the rest of
He began his soliloquy, and to his delight found it to
flow smoothly and easily: a sort of refrain ''Alone,
alone; all, all alone" gave a poetic melancholy which
charmed him. He wrote for some pages and then began
uneasily to fear that soliloquies in " Shakespeare " did not
generally last so long. He took down his favorite, and
patiently counted every word in one of Hamlet's longest
speeches, and on comparing it with the manuscript, found
it so much longer than he expected, that he ventured to
add yet another page to the expression of his heroine's
thoughts. The confidante had just broken in on her
meditations with " How, now, fair mistress?" or "Prithee,
lady " (he had not quite decided which), when Nannie
came running with a letter in her hand.
''A letter for you, Andy," she said, "and there is a
shilling to pay. It is an Australian letter, and, I fear,
contains no good news, for it is not in your brother's writ-
ing, and it is sealed with black."
Andrew's face grew pale as he hurriedly took the letter.
"Pay the man," he said, giving her the money, and she
Presently little Dita came in from the yard, very de-
murely carrying her sick doll; but when she saw Andrew's
face she threw it aside, and running up to him put her
arms round his neck, and clambered up into his lap.
"What is it? what is it, daddy?" she cried; but to her
surprise he put her gently down, and went up to his
room. Dita began to cry, she knew not why, and Nannie
came in to comfort her, but she would not let her go up
to disturb Andrew; she feared that some very bad news
had come, and her heart ached for her husband, for she
knew how dearly he had loved his brother. She took
Dita on her lap and dried her eyes, and told her stories to
allay her own anxiety.
At last Andrew came down, and his eyes were red as
though he had been weeping; he came up to her and pub
his hands on her shoulders and said
"I iiave had some wonderful news, Nannie; this letter
is from Level's lawyer."
" From his lawyer?" she said, wondcringly.
" Yes; he tells me that my poor .brother is dead." His
voice choked, and for a moment he could not go on;
then said, '' Oh, Nannie, I am so grieved!"
Nannie, with tender sympathy, stroked his hand,
whiie little Dita kissed and coaxed his leg. round which
she had wound her arms. Then, to Nannie's surprise, he
suddenly threw himself into a chair, and gave an odd little
" Something very wonderful has happened, wife.
Lovel has left mo everything he possessed. He made
liis will 'oeforo he was taken ill with fever, and 1 am his
"Poor Lovel! he always loved you beyond any one
else. So he leaves no widow, which is happy for her,
"He never was married," said Andrew sharply.
" No, love. I was onlv thinking a widow might have
" No; I am his sole heir his residuary legatee."
" You will l)e able to increase the business, Andy, and
have more help in the shop."
"Help in the shop! increase the business! No
more business for me; we shall be rich, and live in the
Nannie clasped her hands in delight.
" In the country! Dita to be brought np in the sweet
country air, among daisies and roses and flowers; is it true,
"And cows and chickens and ducks," he added, half
laughing, and yet with a gasp.
" We shall live in some sweet little house with a garden,
Andy shall it not have a garden?"
But Andrew straightened himself in his chair, and
pulled up his stock, and said rather pompously
" No, my dear; in a great house with a park round
it. We shall be very rich; we shall have a great many
servants, and you will drive out in a carriage of your own,
and Dita shall learn to sing, and dance, and play on the
" And Fluff, daddy?"
"Fluff shall have a new collar, with silver bells."
" Airl. Jaqnes a new violin?"
" The best that can be found."
"Hush, Dita," said Nannie, rather solemnly, and
she put her hand into her husband's; he felt that she was
" It frightens me," she said; " we are not born to these
"I will teach you, Nannie,'* said Andrew, majestic-
ally; " I feel already as if my career were about to com-
"But you are so clever and I am so foolish," cried
Andrew, kindly patting her shoulder, went on: " We
shall have between ten and twelve thousand a-year, and
there is a very large sum of ready money, with which my
poor brother had intended to buy an estate in the conn try,
and settle down as an English squire."
Nannie raised her head, and dried her eyes.
" It will be a great change," she said; "but how did
poor Lovel ever make such a fortune?"
" lie has had such good fortune as few have had," he
answered; ''and he was very clever; he knew when to
buy, and when to sell. The income we shall enjoy
comes from the large estates he has bought great sheep-
farms; and these are in very trustworthy hands, in which
he always meant to leave them when he came home."
" God help us to manage well!'' said Nannie, reverently.
Andrew said "Amen;" but his thoughts were in such a
whirl, and he was already building such castles in the
air, that he scarcely took in the fervor of her words.
Dita, longing to tell the news first to some one, had
slipped off Nannie's knee, and flown into the shop to
Some one was buying a book, and she had to stand im-
patiently waiting till the customer was gone; then she
climbed on to the counter, and began her story.
"Father no more shop we all going away to live with
ducks and the daisies."
Jaques looked bewildered, as well he might.
"Going away, miss," he repeated. "What do you
"We rich quite rich, and live with the ducks and
daisies; and Fluff have a silver bell, and you have a new
fiddle with paint all over it."
Jaques shook his head, and went on folding up the
books that he had sold in neat parcels, and directing them
with a pen which he took from behind his ear. She was
accustomed to his going on with his business while she
talked, and had just begun: "You must come, too,
Jaquy," when Andrew came into the shop, and briefly
told Jaques what had happened: he was touched by the
l.-ul's manner: Jaques's eyes filled with tears, and he
seized his master's hand, saying earnestly
"God bless yon. sir, wherever yon go! you have been
a good master to me."
A gentleman came into the shop and asked for a rare
edition of " Dante." Andrew did not quite know where
it was, but Jaques knew every book on the shelves, and
produced the copy required. This was no time for senti-
ment this busy time of year the middle of the London
Nannie went about her work with her heart so full that
now and then the large tears rolled clown her cheeks: she
kept telling herself how glad and thankful she ought to
feel, and what a joy this new wealth would be; but the
responsibility seemed to outweigh the j >y, and her unfit-
ness for such responsibility made her dread it beyond
When Andrew's last customers were gone, he leant
wearily against the -counter, while the ever-active Jaques
\vas putting up the shutters.
" I shall not sell another book, Jaques," he said.
Jiiqnes's eyes opened wide.
"Not one; those that remain will form the commence-
ment of a library for me."
" Oh, master, master!" cried Jaques, in an agony;
" why did yon let that ' Dante ' go?"
" I was a fool!" cried Andrew, striking his hand on the
table; "but I am bewildered and tired, Jaques, and it is
always in my head
" ' I never heard a passion so confused,
So strange, outrageous, and so variable,
As the dog Jew did utter in the streets:
My ducats O my brother O my ducats!'
First one, then t'other, I am up and down with joy and
grief like buckets in a well. To-morrow, Jaques, we will
write up that the shop is closed."
On the next day a notice to that effect was pasted all
over the closed shutters of the shop.
An old gentleman, or rather a man whom too much
study had prematurely aged, was passing by the door and
saw the notice. He knew of a treasure within that shop,
and trusted that no one from without knew of it but him-
self. He had his suspicions of Jaques, who knew Lh
Value of a book, Andrew was wont to say, by its very smell.
But Jaques had asked as high a price for this treasure (no
less than De Bry's Virginia in English) as he dared, trust-
ing with a trembling heart that Ins customer would find
it beyond his means, and that he might preserve it in the
The scholar had entered into a daily correspondence on
the subject, always coming in about five o'clock, looking
lovingly at the precious volume, offering a little more or a
little less, while Jaqnes stood respectfully by, with a beat-
ing heart, dreading every moment he might offer the sum
he himself had named.
Now on this bright June morning the scholar was pass-
ing by, and he saw the shop shut up. The perspiration
started out upon his brow an indescribable shiver passed
down his back and he precipitately rushed to the door.
A smile was on Jaques'sface a fiendish grin the scholar
termed it afterward as he told him with all courtesy that
the coveted treasure was no longer to be sold.
He gnashed his teeth; he offered sums of money that
made Jaques softly go and shut the back door.
He heard (he story with a bitter spirit that Fairdou
had succeeded to a fortune, and was determined to keep his
books to commence his own librarv.
" I will give any one anything they ask in future," he
said bitterly to himself, as he thrust his hat upon his
head, unwitting that he had brushed it all the wrong way,
"and never attempt to bargain again fool, fool that I
A friend met him and took his quivering arm, and
heard with composure the terrible story of his wrongs.
"Never mind, old boy!" he said, soothingly, ''keep
your eye on him; these sort of nouveaux riches constantly
c itne to grief, and you will get it for half the price."
It was sorry comfort, for Andrew Fairdon never came
to grief, and the scholar had a thorn rankling in his flesh,
as long as he should live on earth.
"I HAVE never told you one condition of our wealth,
Nannie," said Mr. Fairdoiv, a few days after UK arrival
of the wonderful news " we have to change our name."
"Indeed, Andy, it seems that our very skins will be
changed!" said his wife. " What new-fangled name
shall \ve have to adopt?"
"Lovel; it is in my poor brother's will. You have
heard me speak of Mr. Lovel who lived in Henrietta
Street; he was of very high family, though he was 111
trade, lie was my brother's godfather: my father had
done him a service once, and he was very kind to him
afterward. Somewhere about there is a mug which he
gave Lovel at his christening Dita might have it to use.
How shall you like to be Mrs. Lovel, wife?"
" I do not know, It does not come natural to a woman
of my age to be changing my name, like a new-married
"There is a great deal to think of, Nannie," said An-
drew, striking his brow; "first, for your part, you must
have some mourning."
" I have thought; of that, and can manage very well.
I have my black stuff as good new, and Dita can have one
like it, made of the same; then with a couple of black
and white prints each (I saw some pretty ones in a win-
dow this morning) .and a black ribbon to my bonnet, we
shall do very well."
Andrew solemnly seated himself, and drew a long
"My dear," he said, "you really must endeavor to
attune your mind to our change of circumstances. I
foresee difficulties, but if you try to please me, you will
overcome them in time, and acquire that elegance which
is indispensable in the wife of one who will henceforth
figure among the landed gentry. To begin with, you
may give your black gown all your gowns to Betty;
they are useless now."
" My dear "
"Have the goodness to listen to me. I, being a man,
do not of course know what your dress must be, but I do
know that yon should always wear silk and velvet or satin
on Sundays; and you must have low gowns for dinner."
"Never, never!" cried Nannie; "me in a low gown!
Oh, Andy, 1 would as soon come down without any gown
"But all ladies of fashion do," said Andrew, rather
"But I am r.ot a lady; do not make me ridiculous. I
will wear silk us much as you like of an afternoon, and
merino, or something fine and soft, to muddle about in
of a morning; but a low gown! no."
"Well you will displease me very much if you do n<-t
make every effort to be iu your right place," said Anu:e\, ;
and Nannie's eyesfilled with tears. " And," he continued,
" there are several more things of importance to tell yoi
one is, that henceforth 1 shall cease to call you by the fa-
miliar Nannie, and you likewise must substitute Mr.
Lovel or Andrew for Andy: I shall call vouAnne. or
' I shall not know my own name," cried Nannie, pite-
" Yon are quite unreasonable, and will really vex me,
Mrs. Lovel," cried her husband.
Nannie, notwithstanding all her troubles, could not
help smiling at the name. " What are you laughing at?''
he said, sharply.
"Indeed, deary, I only smiled at my own name; but I
will try to do all you wish," said she, humbly, coming up
and putting her hands on his; " only you must be patient
with me, honey, and not expect poor Nannie to become a
grand lady all at once."
He was restored to-good-humor, and said. " Well, my
dear, if you will do your best, I shall have no cause to be
ashamed of you."
The words jarred on Nannie's ear " Ashamed of her!"
would it really come to that? If he could admit the
possibility of such a feeling in his mind, some mischief
was already done. Oh, how in her heart of hearts she
hated the possession of Level's large fortune!"
Nannie was wise, and saw that in the matter of dress
she would please her husband by changing at once. So
she dressed little Perdita in a fresh white frock, and went
with her to a good dressmaker in Bond Street.
Mr-. Blunt was at home, and they were taken upstairs
into a show-room full of bonnets and caps and lace to
Di til's delight,
Mrs- Blunt was attending to a very magnificently
dressed lady with a pug in her arms; and nodding to Mrs.
Fairdon, she said, ' Sit down ma'am, and I'll come." As
.feat lady left the room, Nmjuie could, ijot help hear-
ing the dressmaker say in a loud whisper outside tho
door, " Mury Anne, why did you show the person in
Then Mrs. Blunt came back, and sitting down, said
" Well, and what can I do for you. ma'am?' 5
Poor Nannie's cheeks had become very red no one
could say what it was to her, this being out of her own
sphere; her good taste led her to be simple, and she told
" I have come to ask you to make me some gowns,
ma'am," she said. " We have been simple folks, but my
husband has inherited a large property, and wishes me to
dress becomingly; and I should be very much obliged to
you, ma'am, if you would advise me in what way to do
The dressmaker was touched by the total absence of af-
fectation, and said, warmly, "Indeed, ma'am, I shall be
most happy, and I will do my very best for you and little
' Yes," said Nannie, brightening, " I should like her
to be very well dressed mostly in white, I think, as we
are to live in the country."
The two women sat down together, and made out a list
which rather startled Nannie by its length. To her great
relief Mrs. Blunt told her that at her age she need not
wear a low gown, and promised her a conplo of suitable
ones for the evening, cut square and filled in with soft
muslin; and she went away with cordial thanks.
For the next few weeks Andrew was always coming
and going; lie was anxious to find a place which would
realize his idea of what, a country gentleman's seat
It was more difficult than he had imagined. Some were
too small, others not grand enough; some were- too
modern. His great wish was to have something old, feel-
ing as if the dignity of age would shed a borrowed luster
Meanwhile Nannie counted every day a respite, and one
gained. She persuaded her husband not to bid her don
her new clothes till they should leave Edgar Street, and
he consented very reluctantly. She was singularly sen-
sitive to ridicule, and would have feared to pass her cwu
threshold into the familiar street.
This was a sad time for Jaqucs: lie spent all his clays
among the books, poring over them, handling them lov-
ingly, touching and retouching the catalogue he had made
of them some time ago, and adding to it fresh comments
for he was aware that his master knew far less of their
merits than he did, and had always to resort to Brunet or
Lowndes for the information that he carried in his own
brain. He must leave them now must go out once more
into the world; for nine years he had lived in that shop
and he loved every dark corner in it.
It had been the custom for him always to join the little
family at supper; but of late he had asked for his portion,
and carried it away to eat by himself. There was a One
tact in Jaques, which only Nannie understood.
One morning Andrew was passing through the shop OR
his way out, when Jaques gently stopped him, saying
" I have heard of a new place, sir, and if you could
make it convenient I should be very glad if you would
give me a character."
Fairdon stopped it was on his tongue to say, " What
do you mean? I cannot part with you;" then his newly
acquired grandness came uppermost; a recollection of ob-
sequious upholsterers and bowing tailors, who waited on
his pleasure in a very different manner from the straight-
forward address of the lad. So he siMd, grandly
"I shall be most happy, Danby: step into Mr?. Level's
sitting-room and bring me a pen and paper." Jaques had
not been called Danby for nine years, but he did as he was
told, without a word.
Andrew drew off the gloves which he had taken to
wearing, and laying his fine silk umbrella on the counter,
Le began to write. He could write but slowly, for he was
practicing a large manly hand that should look thoroughly
unbusiness-like, and becoming to a landed proprietor.
Having finished it, he gave it to Jaques with a smile
that he considered bland, and left the shop. Jaques
looked wistfully after him before he took his hat down
from its old familiar peg, and went off with his letter.
Andrew came home in great glee that evening. He
had heard, from the land-agent whom he was employing,
of a place which he thought would suit him to perfection
a beautiful old place in one of the loveliesgfe counties of
England. He could talk of nothing else of its large
deer-park and beautiful trees of an old oak-paneled hall
and library and of the neighborhood, which was sup-
posed to l)e exceptionally good.
They were sitting late over their supper, still talking
over the glories of Salford Abbey, when there came a gen-
tle knock at the door, and Jaqaes came in.
' You are busy/' he said, and would have withdrawn,
but Dita sprang from her seat and ran up to him.
"Jaquy, you not go away!" she cried "come in
come in!" and lifting Flu if off the seat he occupied, she
pushed Jaqnes into it, and deposited the little dog ii: his
But Jaques saw no welcome in his master's eye, and he
began hastily, "No, miss, dear no." The bitterness
would not be all hid, and he continued, "I have no wel-
come here now, but I thought I might take the liberty
that is, I thought you would like to know, sir, that I
have got the place, and am to go to it on Tuesday week."
"I hope it is a good place, my lad," said Andrew, ma-
jestically, " and as comfortable as you deserve."
Nannie turned away her head to hide her tears. Pita
looked very much puzzled; she again moved Fluff, and in
spite of Jaqnes's efforts to the contrary, began to climb
up into his lap.
" Go away go where, Jaquy?" stroking his troubled
face with her little hand.
" It is you who will go away, and will leave Jaques,"
said the lad.
"No, no, no, no," said the child; "Jaquy must come
with me and Fluff. Daddy, Jaquy must come."
Jaques put her down and ran away; he would not let
them see the tears running down his cheeks. Dita would
not be comforted she cried and sobbed till they did not
know what to do with her. " I must have Jaquy I must
have Jaquy and Fluff."
Andrew fought hard against his better self to keep up
his dignity, and to be firm and inflexible; but Dita's tears
and entreaties prevailed, and he promised her that she
should not be separated from Jaques.
" I will make him my private secretary, wife, and he
can look after the library and buy books," snid he.
Nannie slipped out of the room, and found Jaques
gobbing iu his little room; his delight and gratitude at
hearing the good news were indescribable; he should not
have to leave his beloved books, but be able to collect
others; and, above all, he should not be parted from ins
beloved little lady, and the kind woman who had been
like a mother to him.
When Nannie had comforted him, she went back to
Dita, whom she found Bitting on the floor, hugging her
dog. . Fluff was coiled up in her lap, unwitting that
from his humble position he had become a landed dog.
AXDREW did not express the wish of his heart in
words, which was that Nannie would leave the purchase
of the house in his hands, without seeing it, or express-
ing any opinion as to its desirability. He knew that she
would do all in her power to make him adopt a humbler
and more modest style of life, and this he was determined
not to do.
Nannie, however, perceived his wish, as she always did.
" Andrew, love, never mind me in settling it all.
Though you know what I would like best, I am quite
ready to think it all beautiful; so just you go your own
way, and let it be a surprise to me."
"I think that is a wise decision," said he; "these
things are more in my line than yours."
"Just tell me," she said, "who the people are that
are selling it, dear; and why, if it is such an old place,
they don't keep it for themselves?"
" The people are called Norton," he answered. " Sir
John Norton has just died, and the estate becomes the
property of his son Sir Edward, who is only a boy. Sir
John was so deeply in debt that everything had to be sold,
and the place was not entailed, so it went also. The
widow and Sir Edward Norton have an income of about
1500 a-year; they are to live in her dower house, the
Grange, which is about five miles from the park gates."
" What park gates, love?"
" The lodge of Salford Abbey."
" And what have you done about furniture?"
"I have ordered it all to be bought as it stands; but
Lady Norton, of course, has a great many things of her
own, and all of these have been moved to the Grange, so
we shall have some things to buy."
" Well, let me know, by-ahd-by, in good time to pack
for the flitting,," said Nannie, "and I Avill not trouble
you with more questions."
"The flitting indeed! I must beg. Mrs. Level, that
you will not pack anything. The tables and chairs here
are not fit for the scullery of Salford Abbey. Everything
must begin brand-new. Mr. Smith has undertaken to
engage servants for the whole establishment."
Nannie gave a little gasp. " How many must we have?"
" Here is the list."
" A lady's maid! what can I do with a grand lady to
wait on me?"
" Why, let her wait on you, to be sure."
"Ah, well, she can help me with making Dita's things."
It was on the point of Andrew's tongue to say " You
must never make anything more for JDita;" but he sup-
pressed the words, comforting himself by thinking that
it would look maternal and interesting; but to poor Nan-
nie it seemed that everything tlu>t she said or did was
wrong: how should she teach herself? She took away the
list to think over and study.
In the kitchen Dita and Jaques were sitting, the former
making her slave tell her stories of the possessions she
would soon call her own; of a pony to ride, and swans to
feed, cows to see milked, and flowers to pick. They were
all living in a world of unreality, and Nannie began to
long for the crisis to be over.
Up to the present time, about once a year, Master Mal-
colm had written from Dunmonaigh, asking for news of
Assunta's child, whom he always called by the ceremoni-
ous name of Margaret Grisekla, unwitting that her adopted
parents had changed her name; and Andrew had been very
careful always in keeping up the illusion. The fact that
any one should know that his little Dita had been taken
by'him from the workhouse, was indescribably galling to
him in his new circumstances; and when the annual
letter arrived, he saw a way of cutting off the inquiries of
the Minister, and causing him to lose sight of them alto-
gether, as he carefully abstained from answering it, and
left a commission with a neighbor to write after lie had
quitted Edgar Street, and say that Mr. Fairdon and his
family had left the neighborhood that they had assumed
another name on inheriting a considerable property, and
had left no address. The Minister was thus compelled to
give up all intercourse with them, and it seemed as if
every tie was cut off between Perdita and her native
At last the great day came: little Dita was wild with
excitement and delight, Andrew more pompous than ever,
and poor Mrs. Lovel (for she had now fairly adopted her
new name) quite shaky and tremulous. No one knew
what it cost her to be dressed by the weeping Betty in that
black silk gown which looked as if it might stand alone,
in the black lace shawl and feathered bonnet; but the
dress became her well, and the good taste of the dress-
maker having come to her aid, she looked quite as she
should do, and was free from superfluous trimmings.
Dita was all in white, with daisies in her hat. The
child had an innate look of noble race; and the difference
of dress did not alter her appearance.
It was settled that Mr. Lovel and Jaques should start
first, and that Mrs. Lovel and Dita should follow by a
train two hours later; thus Andrew could see that all was
ready for their reception. He was very anxious that she
should be pleased more anxious than, he cared to show,
or even to allow to himself.
Nannie was met at the London station by a footman,
who touched his hat and told her that he had taken their
places. She would fain have carried her own bag, but it
was civilly taken from her, and sho followed in haste into
It was a comfort when she, and the child, and Fluff
were safe in the train, and the footman had given her the
tickets. Dita could not sit still; she went from one win-
dow to another, and chattered, and felt certain that every
station they passed must be the right one.
At last the long-expected name was shouted Langford
Junction and the footman threw open the door. A
small private omnibus with a pretty brown horse was
stan il ing outside.
" From Salford?" asked the man; and on hearing the
answer in the aftimative, handed in Mrs. Lovel, and went
back for the luggage. The coachman did not wait: the
little omnibus was whirled away, and poor Nannie held
Dita's hand fast in her nervousness, infecting the sensi-
tive child with something like her own sensations.
Meanwhile, the footman, sorting his luggage, was ac-
iosted by a very grand lady, who asked him, condescend-
ingly, what was waiting to take her to Salford Abbey.
She told him that she was the new housekeeper, and was
expected to arrive by this train. Going out of the sta-
tion, Eobert was astonished and dismayed by finding that
the omnibus was gone and a brougham waiting; he saw
the mistake he had made, perceiving that the brougham
must have come for the lady, and the omnibus for the
housekeeper. However, it was too late to remedy the mis-
take, and Mrs. Poole got into the brougham and started
on her drive.
Andrew and Jaques were waiting at the window watch-
ing for the travelers to come: when the omnibus came
into view they were astonished that it should have started
first. A footman came and told Andrew that Mrs. Poole
had arrived, and had brought Miss Lovel with her: they
had been shown into the housekeeper's room.
Andrew's heart misgave him, and bidding Jaques fol-
low, he went down stairs, and found Nannie very much
bewildered, not knowing where she was. The servants
who were present did not know which way to look, but
Nannie tranquilly took Dita's hand, aud followed her hus-
band up stairs; but she knew iu her heart that it was an
Salford Abbey retained much of its monastic character.
It was a large, low house, built round a square court filled
with grass, and having in the center a stone well. The
passages round this court had been cloisters, and their
beautiful tracery had been kept in very good order, and
vas greatly admired. Glass windows closed the arches
now, and glass doors opened on to the grass. The en-
trance into the front of the house was by a low door cov-
ered thickly with ivy: it darkened the window which gave
light to the long, narrow, stone lobby into which it opened,
so that the first effect on entering was one of darkness and
gloom. This lobby ended in a low arch, before which
hung a fine tapestry portiere, and from thence you emerged
into what had formerly been the refectory, and was now a
large hall the full height of the house. This hall was the
great beauty of Salford. It was paneled with black
and decorated with old armor and banners; over the chim-
ney-piece was a fine trophy of arms, and the straight-
backed oak chairs were all covered with heraldic shields.
Andrew Lovel had indeed achieved his wish to become
possessor of an old feudal place. On one side of the hall
was a row of low square windows which looked into the
cloisiers, and formerly opened into them, but were now
filled with glass; each of these windows had a seat ot most
inviting character. A great oak table in the center of the
hall was covered with flowers, and fine pots of pyramidal
azaleas stood in the corners.
The hall was lighted by a great window in the east wall,
filled with armorial bearings in stained glass.
Doors from the hall led to the more modern part of the
house to the drawing-rooms, and the dining-room
which was paneled with oak like the hall.
Xannie looked round and felt her heart sink, as it had
never sunk before; in her happiest dreams she had thought
of bright sunny rooms, clean crackling chintzes, lace anti-
maccassars, and glittering chandeliers; but how unlike
this was to what she had exj-c-cted! A weight seemed to
have fallen upon her; those dreadful black walls, this
great resounding place it oppressed her; she felt as if she
never could be her own self there. It was better when
the housemaid came to take her up to her own room.
She left Dita with her husband, and followed the kmu-
The staircase was of oak also, and very slippery, and
Nannie had to hold fast by the banisters. Her room was
in front of the house, looking over an expanse of green
park with fine trees. It was very grand, she felt, but she
found that one of the little rooms opening into it was to
be Dita's, and this was so dainty and pretty, all white
dimity and rosebuds, that she could think no more of the
gloom of the four-post bed with its canopy of yellow silk.
Ann was lingering about with a pained look on a most
comely face, when it suddenly struck Mrs. Lovel what she
was longing to say, but could not get out.
She put her hand on the woman's shoulder, and said,
"Xever mind; I do not at all wonder at your taking me
for the housekeeper you will know me now."
She could not help her jes filling with tears. Ann wag
"Ob, ma'am, if I could only tell you how sorry I am."
"You need not mind," said Nannie, smiling an April
smile; "you see I have been in a bumble position in life,
and now tbat I am no longer young enough to change in
everything, God has seen fit to send us great wealth so I
cannot hope to be like my husband, who is, as one may
say, born to it; but don't fret any more, and do your duty
by me, as I will try to do mine by you." Ann went away,
her mistress's friend for life.
THE next morning was brilliantly fine, the dew spark-
ling in the sun, When Mrs. Lovel rose, she threw open
her windows, and stood enchanted by the beauty of the
sweet, fresh country. The park was very undulating, the
road crossed it for about half a mile, and then lost itself
in woods. Near the house stood some large tree?, at the
entrance of a shrubbery, and under them the turf was of
that thick velvety texture which no turf that is not very
old will ever attain.
Nannie went in to call Dita; the child was tired with
her journey, and still slept very soundly, with her round
arms clasped over her head. Nannie woke her with many
kisses, and she sat up rubbing her eyes.
"Oh, mammie, how pretty you look!" she cried; and
Nannie found some pleasure in her pink dressing-gown,
as the child admired it so much.
When she was dressed and had flown to the window with
a cry of delight, Nannie felt a feeling of happiness that
she had not known for a long time. It was delightful to
be once more in the beautiful country.
When breakfast was over, Andrew said that the agent,
Mr. Smith, was corning to see him; and he advised Mrs.
Lovel to enter into a thorough examination of the house
from head to foot. So Nannie's first day in her new home
was a busy and pleasant one.
She summoned the housekeeper, who accompanied her
on her rounds; and they opened every door and every cup-
board, examined wardrobes and chests of drawers, looked
into the condition of the stores, and were thoroughly
After luncheon, which was a terrible ordeal to Mrs.
Lovel, Andrew took them out, and they visited the beauti-
ful old-fashioned garden, with its yew-hedges and flower-
beds, inlaid in green turf. They would have enjoyed this
but for the gardener, who insisted on taking them over
the whole place, and into every greenhouse and hothouse,
gathering a splendid nosegay for Mrs. Lovel, and present-
ing it to her with an air as if all he surveyed was his
The man did not look happy; in his heart he was very
sad, for every one in the place had loved the Nortons, and
the change was bitter. Nannie felt this instinctively,
and shrank more into herself.
When she was tired with her unwonted exertions, she
went home with Andrew, and Dita and Jaques and Fluff
continued their explorations. They went across the park,
and looked down into the lovely little trout-stream, so
clear and swift, and followed it into the woods, where
the silence was only broken by a chorus of birds and in-
sects; and the smells of the bracken and wild-flowers
almost intoxicated the little town-bred child.
As time passed on a trouble came on Nannie, of which
she had never dreamt in her experience; this was that
most devouring of troubles ennui: she had nothing to
do. After breakfast the cook would come for orders, and
stay for perhaps ten minutes; then she took Dita out for
a walk; but she was unused to walking, and got easily
tired, and by eleven o'clock was glad to leave the child
with her maid, and go home. Her own sitting-room was
very pretty and sunny, and furnished with pleasant books;
but she had no habit of reading, and her eyes were not
so good as 'they used to be, and she wearied of her books.
Andrew had bought her a fine piece of worsted-work, but
she felt as if it would never be finished, and hated tne
regular pattern. She had no 'other resources. Oh for
one morning of hearty scrubbing and washing up! She
used to sing gayly at her work^ with an eye on Dita's
perilous amusements in the yard all the time. Oil to see
Andrew once more in his black apron, struggling with
difficult rhymes! His poetical irritability then was noth-
ing to iy?r: very different from the constant finding fault
now, wnich only served to make her shy and awkward.
In these days Nannie's soft hair turned very gray, and
68 DITJL. ' .
her voice, from its old cheery sweetness, acquired a weak-
ness in tone, and she spoke low, as those do who often cry
by themselves in secret.
One of the most painful of the ordeals through which
Mrs. Lovel had to puss was the visits of the neighboring
families; for Andrew was so anxious that she should please
them that it made her painfully nervous.
One day, about six months after they had been settled
at Salford, a large party arrived, consisting of a neighbor-
ing landowner's wife, Mrs. Lee Aston, and her daughter,
and a party of guests who were staying with them, who
had wished to see Salford Abbey.
Nannie's heart sank within her when she saw how many
there were. They were shown into the drawing-room,
and her nervousness was so great that she could get out
nothing but monosyllables.
Andrew was strolling about in the garden in a studied
country gentleman's dress, and she received them alone.
The Lee Astons came expecting to be amused, and
Andrew, when he came in, satisfied their fullest expecta-
tions. It Beemed to Nannie that they were drawing him
out, for he had never appeared to so little advantage. He
took them round the old rooms and the cloister, pomp-
ously telling them the history of the place, which they
knew far better than he did.
One of the party was a tall grave man, who seemed as if
he did not enter into the joking and laughter of the
younger people: he left Andrew to go round with his
guests, and stayed behind with Mrs. Lovel.
"Have you met my sister-in-law yet, Mrs. Lovel?" he
"I do not know," she answered, "for I do not know
He smiled. "I am Mr. Norton," he said; "Lady
Norton is my sister-in-law, and I am the guardian to the
" It seems very hard that this place should have left its
rightful owner," said Nannie. He looked at her sharply,
and then said kindly, "I am very glad that it has fallen
into your hands. I wanted to ask a great favor of your
husband, and that is, to allow my nephew to fish in the
trout-stream. He is fond of fishing, and being home from
Eton for the holidays, it will be a great resource to him."
DHA. , 69
"I am sure Andr Mr. Lovel will be honored, delighted
I mean poor young gentleman."
" Lady Norton would cull on you, I know, but she nat-
urally shrinks from returning here under such different
circumstances. There are a great many of the poor people
in whom she is much interested, and about whom it would
be the greatest comfort to her to talk to you. I wonder if
I might ask you to call upon her?"
"If she would allow me if she would not think it a
liberty I should be very glad."
The door opened and Dita bounded in, followed by her
little dog. On seeing the stranger she stopped, and
assumed a demure pace. It would be difficult to imagine
a prettier sight than this child, with her great rare dark
eyes and the floating cloud of golden hair, which made her
like a fairy child.
Mr. Norton held out his hand, and she went up to him
with a natural grace all her own.
" Your little girl, Mrs. Lovel?" he said, inquiringly.
"Yes, our little daughter," answered Nannie, stroking
down the wild hair lovingly.
Mr. Norton felt surprised that anything so refined and
fairy-like should have been born of humble parents; but
he s'aid no more, and the rest of the party returning, they
took their leave.
They were driving through the woods when Miss Lee
Aston cried out
"Oh, look, mamma, there is an odd figure!"
Against a tall shadowy birch-tree stood Jaques with
his violin in his hand waiting till the carriage should have
passed, before he resumed the music his soul loved.
Jaque's large hands and feet, his uncouth face, which
looked rough-hewn and not finished off, caused an irre-
sistible laugh. He heard, and even in his gentle soul
arose a feeling of bitterness; but he comforted himself by
the wildest and most fantastic maneuver on his pet violin.
One day Dita came running into her mother's room
with her face full of the excitement of news.
"Mammie, there's a 'itthe boy fishing may I speak to
him? oh, mammie, may I?"
Mrs. Lovel looked at her flushed, eager little face, and
seeing how much it would delight her, consented: the boy
could be no other than Edward Norton. Jaques wag
70 , , DITA.
away in London transacting business for Andrew^ ind
Dita was without playmates. Away she danced with
Fluff at her heels, far outstripping the sober pace of her
The boy sitting on the edge of the stream in the wood
looked up at her with a furious frown as she danced up to
him; she was so taken aback that her poor little face fell
piteonsly: he saw it, for he turned round and said -
"Never mind, you've frightened him away, and he
won't come back: what do you want?"
. But Dita was quite subdued, she only crept a little
nearer and hung her head.
" Well, out with it, little un."
Dita's courage came back as fast as it was gone, and she
sat down by him, and lot a piece of string she held in her
hand go into the water.
" I fish," she said.
" You are a funny little thing," said the boy, who was
about twelve years old, and very handsome. "What is
" Dita," she said. " I caught a fish," and she drew
out a dead leaf.
"Would you like to see my fish?" said the boy; and
opening his basket he showed to her wondering eyes the
glittering silvery back of a pretty trout; but alas! the sight
proved too exciting for the inquisitive nature of Fluff; he
darted forward, and would have thrust his nose into the
basket, when a sharp push from the boy thrust him back.
Fluff was a clumsy spoilt pet; he rolled over, gave a little
squeak, and subsided into the trout-stream.
"Oh, Fluff!" shrieked Dita.
" Be quiet," said the boy; "he will swim all right,"
and he stood for a moment watching; then he saw to his
consternation that Fluff's superabundant coat was pulling
him down, that the hair covered his bead-like eyes, and
that he was fighting with his paws above his head instead
of below him. He stretched out a branch, but Fluff took
no notice. Dita stood motionless with her little hands
clasped together in despair. There was no time to lose,
and the boy jumped into the water, and waded after the
poor pet, catching him up just in time to save his life.
He carried him out, and Dita received Fluff wringing
wet as he was into her lap and covered him with kisses and
"You must run home," said the boy, standing dripping
beside her; "and change your things, or you, will catch
"Come home too," said Dita, rising and pulling his
hand; but the boy drew it away roughly, and said with
"Not I it is your home now, not mine."
" Shall you be here to-morrow, boy?" said Dita.
" Yes, I will come and see whether you have caught
Dita held up her face to be kissed, and then trotted
away with Fluff in her arms, meeting her terrified maid on
Just as they reached the door, Mr. Lovel came out and
met them. His consternation was great on seeing the
dripping condition of the child; her frock, everything in
a deplorable condition, and he severely scolded the maid
for losing sight of her charge, while Dita flew away to tell
her story to " mammie." The little adventure bore im-
portant fruits. Dita must no longer run wild; her edu-
cation must begin. For one more happy unshackled
mouth the child was free, getting into innumerable scrapes,
and always spending a thoroughly happy part of the day
with Edward Xorton, who initiated her into all sorts of
enchanting amusements, taught her to climb trees and to
wade in the water, to know the names of the trees and
flowers, to fish for hours with a crooked pin, to build moss-
houses, etc. The country-bred boy found the greatest
amusement in teaching this sweet little Cockney all the
commonest knowledge of country life. Then the holidays
came to an end, and Edward went off to his work, and
Dita was caught up like a wild colt from the grass to be
tamed and broken-in to harness. A governess arrived
a parcel of lesson-books, a piano and some globes; and one
snug little room with windows opening into the cloister
was turned into a schoolroom.
The old life in Edgar Street, Soho, had completely
passed away so completely that no one but the Lovels
and Jaques knew that Dita was not their child. This was
Andrew's strong wish, and Nannie was not experienced
enough to see that it might )ad *> embarrassment in
the future. When Dita was about twelve years old, she
told her the outline of her parents' history, suppressing
their names; and she was glad to have done so, as at
that age the revelation was nothing compared to what
it might have been in the future. It was curious to see
the hereditary peculiarities developing themselves in
the girl's character; the enthusiasm and strong powers of
loving and disliking of her mother's race the chivalrous
loyalty from her father. There was danger that she might
become too romantic, too exalte; but her faithful Jaqnes
proved the best educator she could have. He directed her
enthusiasm aright; he fed her imagination with truth, at
once encouraging and restraining it; hours together she
spent with him reading the books he chose for her. In
vain the conventional governess appealed to Mrs. Lovel
against this; she would not listen. She saw that there
was a necessary craving in Dita's existence for the great
and chivalrous and beautiful things, and the wonderful
tact and sympathy with which nature had endowed the
uncouth Jaques taught this also to him: this want must
be fed, or Dita would look round her for what she wanted,
and in her nearest and dearest would learn and mark its
absence. Her character developed slowly: she was gener-
ous and unselfish, full of sweetness and high religious tone;
and though the time came (and Jaques alone knew that it
must come) when she awoke to the fact that the parents
whom she loved so very dearly were not such as she was,
never by word or gesture, never even by admitting it to
herself, did she betray it. She loved them perhaps all the
more that the feeling roused up a feeling of protection of
them from the whole world.
Dita grew and shot up; her long golden hair was woven
into plaits, and she wore a pinafore. Each time that Ed-
ward Norton came home from school, he saw less of her,
and pronounced her quite spoilt, and no fun: finally he
never saw her at all, and she passed on through the last
stages of her schoolroom life.
A still greater change had come over her gentle mother.
As year passed after year it took away a little more life,
a little more energy. She was fading, very, very slowly
imperceptibly to all but Jaques, who through life had been
her confidant, and who loved her dearly. He saw the refine-
ment of ill-health stealing over her; he did not mistake the
transparency of her hands for the delicacy produced by the
life of a fine lady; and that she was always lying on the
sofa more and more, told its own tale to him. Andrew
was either too absorbed or would not understand. Nan-
nie was fading early while still in the prime of life: she
was not clever, she was not strong, and the transplanting
had wounded the tender little fibers, without which the
life of the strongest plant grows faint.
Jaques lived with his mother in a pretty cottage just he-
hind the garden; they lived humbly but very happily.
Under his care the Salford library was becoming a rare
and valuable one, and it flattered Andrew's vanity so much
that learned men should write to him and ask for the
favor of seeing his books, that in this one particular he
permitted himself extravagance, and Jaques reveled in
the works his carte-Han die enabled him to procure.
"YES, she's a stunner!" pronounced Mr. John Lee
Aston, commonly called Jack, the second son of the Lee
A voice of a different caliber answered him coldly,
"Whatever Miss Lovel may be, there is no standing the
"Money covers a multitude of sins," said Jack, laugh-
ing; "but there is no trace of the parvenue about the
fair Perdita she is the prettiest creature I ever saw; and
as for manners, I have never seen her equal."
"She was a very pretty child," answered Sir Edward
Norton. "But I have been abroad so long that I have
only a slight recollection of her features; and only a strong
recollection of that ass, her father, peppering me in the
legs when your governor asked him to shoot in your
coverts. I suppose he has not killed any one since?"
"He has never handled a gun since, poor old boy. I
shall never forget his face when you tumbled down; it
took half the nonsense out of him at a blow, and they say
he is much improved."
"Well, then, my misfortune has proved good fortune
for others, for he used to carry his gun like a walking-
stick. I insured my life before I accepted your invitation
to stay here for this ball, as I thought you would want me
to walk through the turnips to-morrow."
"I wish your mother would have come."
" She is very happy at the Grange with my uncle; and
she drives over nearly every day to see Mrs. Lovel it is
the most wonderful infatuation."
" Is she not a great invalid?"
" That is what it is: it is partly a sort of charity visit,
though I confess my mother is devoted to her."
"You will see the heiress to-night," said Jack.
" What! is she coming here?"
"Yes, it is her first ball."
" Hum!" Sir Edward gave a sort of growl and lighted
a cigar; Jack followed his example, saying as he did so,
" Ahem a I suppose it would not really stand in a
" What?! don't understand."
"Those sort of parents want of family and birth; it's
a confounded nuisance when everything else is so desir-
"Do you wish for the young lady, or her money?" said
" Both," said the other. "I don't know exactly that
I should have chosen a daughter of Andrew Lovel as a
wife but for the money; but, by Jove! I never would
marry money unless I cared very much for the possessor."
" DoSDt thou marry for munny, but go8 wheer munny is,"
said Norton, blowing a cloud of blue smoke into the air.
" Well, you are wiser than I am; the fact of a young lady
being possessed of a large fortune makes me fight shy of
her acquaintance. I have seen enough of that," he added,
Edward Norton was very proud, and it had reached his
ears that people coupled his name with the .heiress's, and
planned the return of the old place to the rightful family
through this marriage. Even his mother had once im-
prudently given a very slight hint to that effect, which
had been taken with the rapid swerve of a shying
thorough-bred. He was far from pleased at hearing that
he was to be under the same roof with this lady for two
or three davs.
" This is the last visit I mean to pay," he said, decid-
edly. "I must go to London and buckle-to. If a fellow
has bis own way to m:ike in the world, he must not waste
time, Jnit plod along the road to fortune."
" 1 have the same road before me," said Jack, kicking
a pebble out of his way.
" But you seem inclined to take a short cut, Jack."
"It saves a long, dry, dusty grind with one leap."
"Well, I wish you good hick. Shall we go in? It
must be five o'clock, and I must take off my boots before
joining the ladies."
Edward Norton threw away his cigar and went up
stairs. His handsome dark face was overcast and gloomy
as he pulled off his- boots and threw them viciously across
the room. It was unbearable that the very first thing
that happened on returning to his own country, should
be the overthrow of his plans for carefully avoiding any
intercourse with the inhabitants of his old home. He
imagined to himself that the object of Jack Lee Aston's
admiration must be a blooming, rosy girl, stout and fair-
haired, with all the want of refinement to be expected
from one of Andrew's race. It was some years since they
had met. The later Eton holidays, and all Oxford vaca-
tions, had been spent by Sir Edward with his uncle, Mr.
Norton, and abroad with his mother. Lady Norton had
encouraged him to be very much with his uncle: she
feared lest the haughty and somewhat imperious spirit of
her son would be marred for want of a father's authority.
In some ways Mr. Norton was the best guardian he could
have, but by no means in all. He was a cold man, just
and upright, and gained his nephew's strong esteem; but
he had almost as strong a share of the hereditary family
pride as Sir Edward himself, and involuntarily encour-
aged it in the boy. No one guessed how bitterly Edward
regretted Salford. Like most imaginative people, he had
a passionate love for home. Lady Norton, a kind-hearted
but rather weak woman, found herself unable to cope
with her son's faults, so she contented herself with draw-
ing out and strengthening his merits, and consoled her-
self with the thought that these faults were those of a
generous-minded but untamed nature, and that rough
contact with the world would tone them down. Her one
injudicious hint about Dita Lovel had rankled in her
mind; he looked upon his mother's friendship for Mrs.
Lovel as an infatuation; and so sensitive was he on the
subject of the Level's that he was half inclined to think
that all were combined in a conspiracy to compel him to
marry the heiress. A kind of stiff shyness made him
blush as he walked down stairs, and feel furious that he
was doing so. There was a great deal of laughing and
chattering going on in the dravving-roon. Meta Lee
Aston, a yomng lady no longer young, was. seated at the
piano with all the younger members of the party round
her, they were trying to sing a glee, "Let -the bumper
toast go round," and enjoying the mistakes they made.
Mrs. Lee Aston, Miss Ashbdrn, her elder sister, and
Mrs. Arthur, the eldest son's wife, were seated round the
Sir Edward possessed himself of the "Pall Mall," and
sank into a large arm-chair by a reading-lamp.
Tiie singing continued. " Here's a health to all good
lasses " in a shrill treble all out of place; and a very un-
certain bass began something about a bumper toast. The
accompanist took her hands off; and the unlucky man
was heard to roar out " lads and lasses fill your glasses "
before he could stop his ponderous voice. Being very
young, his voice was uncertainly powerful, and burst out
like .the notes of an irregularly blown organ.
Then the door opened, and there was a bustle of fresh
arrivals. Lord and Lady Armine, and Miss Grethard,
their daughter, and behind them Mr. and Miss Lo'vel.
There was a great coming forward and shaking of
hands, and offers of tea, and then every one subsided into
their place the gentlemen with their backs to the fire
(for it was September, and the evenings chill), and the
ladies taking off their gloves and drinking tea.
Dita sat close to Mrs. Arthur (as she was always called),
a pretty little comfortable woman, whose great wish was
that every one should be happy round her, and who
thought that her greatest contribution toward the enter-
tainment of her mother-in-law's guests, was to take them
up to see her four fat children in bed. She was very
kind, and in a soft, purring voice put Dita at her ease;
for it is formidable, even to the experienced, that arrival
m a hot room at tea-time, when every one is at home and
amused, and the guest comes in dazzled from the darkness
DITA. . 7?
outside, and finds it difficult to recognize friends in the
glare of light and the tea seems supernaturallj hot; but
Mrs. Arthur's soft remarks enabled her to swallow the
bread-and-butter she was too shy J;o refuse.
Sir Edward's eyes, in spite of himself, wandered to
Miss Lovel; but she sat with her back to him, and he
could only see a large sombrero hat, the shadow of which
hid even her hair. He was not acquainted with the
Armines, and he did not think it worth while, after the
first civil rise from his seat on their entrance, to move
from his comfortable chair.
Sooner than usual, Mrs. Lee Aston rose, and said in
her cheery voice, "As dinner is at seven to-night, I am
sure you will like to go up and rest a little now; I have
ordered the carriages at nine, for Lady Waldon is very
anxious that her ball should begin early. Mary, my dear,
if you are going up stairs, will you show Miss Lovel her
Perdita followed Mrs. Arthur up stairs to her com-
fortable little room, where she found her maid already
"Do we dress before dinner, or after?" she asked.
"Oh, as you like; a muslin or something slight for
dinner for you young ladies, for fluffy ball-gowns get so
crushed. I shall dress before;" and the good little woman
When the gong sounded, Andrew came for his daughter,
as she had made him promise to do, and she followed him
shyly down stairs. ,
Most of the guests were assembled, and Mrs. Lee Aston
said, that as dinner was at an irregular time, they would
wait for no one, but that they had better go in without
ceremony. The result was a little gentle rush, and
Perdita found herself taken in by Jack Lee Aston. There
was a vacant seat on the other sidp, for one of the un-
punctual guests, and this remained empty till the soup
was nearly over, when Sir Edward Norton came in; he
looked hastily round the table there was no escape, and
he sat down by her, and unfolded his napkin.
"Please go on," said Dita to her right-hand neighbor,
who was telling her the names of all the party.
" How far did I get? the lady in pink silk you know,
''Yes, and then Mr. Greville with the bass voice, and
then Miss Grethard I know them, of course; and then?"
"Those two men are Captain Johnstone and Colonel
Palmer; then, of course, my mother, Lord Armine, Major
Steele, a brother officer of Arthur's, and then my aunt,
" And next to me?" whispered Dita.
"Norton., I think you are not acquainted with Miss
Lovel? Sir Edward Norton Miss Lovel," said Jack,
aloud; Norton bowed very stiffly, and turning to Miss
Ashburn, asked her if she had been out driving.
Miss Ashburn was very deaf with one ear, and Jack
felt himself revenged when she produced a long tube from,
her pocket, and thrusting one end into her ear where it
stuck of itself, she presented the mouthpiece to her neigh-
Jack could not suppress a little giggle, and Dita pursed
up her mouth vigorously, not to smile.
Sir Edward's question produced a long disconnected
answer, and then he set himself to eating and between
dishes to examining the menu with so very decided an
intention not to speak, that Perdita could not but per-
ceive it, though Jack kept her employed the whole time
listening to him.
Fortunately for Sir Edward, dinner was hurried over,
and the young ladies went away to dress. The gentlemen
amused themselves by knocking about the billiard -balls
in the hall, and the elder ladies warmed themselves
and drank coffee; little Mrs. Arthur stole away to the
At nine o'clock, the carriages were announced, and the
young ladies reappeared, their beauty hidden by cloaks
and shawls. Mrs. Lee Aston wrapped up Miss Ashburn,
first in a Shetland shawl, then io an Indian chuddar,
and lastly in a huge fur tippet, and they started.
Perdita's feet were dancing the whole way, and her eyes
sparkling; no excitement in her hitherto tranquil life
had ever equaled this going to her first ball.
THAT first sound of music on the staircase which an-
nounces that dancing has begun, what a thrill of excite-
ment it produces in the heart of the young debutante!
Dita followed Mrs. Lee Aston and her 'flock of ladies
into the ball-room. She felt quite bewildered with the
brilliancy of the scene, and was only aroused by Mr.
Lovel leading her forward and introducing her proudly
to their hostess, Lady Waldon; and she saw the face of a
very pleasant- looking old lady smiling kindly at her and
saying, (< I hope you like dancing, my dear; all young
people should like dancing."
Then she was hurried off by Jack, and whirled into
Perdita excited extreme admiration; her kind hostess
was literally besieged by gentlemen, all asking to be intro-
duced to her, and eager for the privilege of dancing with
"Do you never dance, Sir Edward?" said Mrs. Arthur,
in her cooing voice.
" Very seldom I cannot see the pleasure of skipping
about for nothing."
" Oh dear! but then young people must be amused."
" It is not a rational amusement."
" Were you always so rational? What a dreadful boy
you must have been!" said Lady Waldon, coining up to
Edward was forced to laugh, and the laugh dissipated
a little of his cross humor. " Come," she went on, "I
think too well of you not to think that you can be irra-
tional sometimes. Why, the Spartans themselves un-
" Only when the period of decadence commenced," an-
swered Sir Edward. "But I am no Spartan, perhaps
more of a philosopher "
" Then you must be driven from your tub! A tub at
your age, goodness me! Let me secure you a charming
partner to exercise your fascinations upon."
" No, no, Lady Waldon: conquests are for Alexander"
and he pointed to Jack, who was again daucfng with
Dita "and philosophy for me "
"Ah! is not that as good as saying that were you not
Diogenes yon would be Alexander? It must need all your
philosophy to resist the chance of dancing with anything
" I have scarcely seen Miss Lovel." said he, very coldly.
"Oh, Diogenes, still in thy tub!" and she laughed and
left him, determined on revenge.
He was still standing where she had left him when La 1;
Waldon suddenly came up to him and said
" Sir Edward, allow me to introduce you to Miss Lovel
she is disengaged for this dance."
He could do nothing but ask her to dance, which he
did in the most formal manner. To his astonishment six-
refused. He bowed, and stepped back. At that moment
the music began, and Major Steele came swiftly through
the crowd, with his head in the air, as if seeking some one,
and seeing Miss Lovel, asked her to dance, and she went
gayly away with him.
Edward Norton felt exceedingly mortified. She had
refused him, and accepted the commonplace little officer
at once. It was the Lancers, and Perdita was close to
him in the dance. Very much displeased, he watched
her, and in spite of himself could not help admitting that
she was pretty.
Edward Norton's taste was very fastidious, and it was
gratified by the perfection of Dita's whole appearance.
Her dress, made by the very best French dressmaker, had
that degree of finish about it which is so rare in England;
gloves, shoes, and fan all of one tint. Her beautiful
wavy hair was braided in very large soft plaits; on her
brow it rippled and curled naturally. Her complexion
was brilliantly white, with a wild -rose tinge on the cheeks
and lips; but the most remarkable feature was that won-
derful pair of dark eyes like the eyes of a gazelle shaded
by dark lashes, and full of varying expression.
Norton's " pretty," was buc hesitatingly pronounced,
for he was truthful even to himself, and it seemed to him,
in spite of himself, that his eyes had never rested on any-
thing more lovely.
When the dance was orer he went across to where Dita
had seated herself, and said, very sternly
" May I have the pleasure of this valse, Miss Lovel?"
"No, thank yon," she said, quietly.
" Are you already engaged?"
"No; that is, not yet."
He stood gloomily beside her for a moment, and then
said, " So I am the only person with whom you refuse to
She opened her eyes very wide, but said nothing. He
repeated his words in the shape of a question. "Ami
the only person with whom you refuse to dance; and if
" Because you do not really wish to dance with me,"
said Dita, with spirit. "I saw you did not, and only
asked me because you could not help it, Indeed I do not
care for dancing so very much that I would dance with you
against your will," and she blushed at the length of her
"But I do wish you to dance with me, very much,"
said Sir Edward, haughtily.
" Merely the spirit of contradiction, "answered Dita, as
haughtily. She was a spoilt child, and could not brook
his tone of superiority. She sat while that delicious valse
went on, tapping her foot on the floor. No one asked her
to dance, for seeing Sir Edward by her side they imagined
her to be engaged to him, but he did not move.
"I am sorr tT that you should think such a thing," he
said, slowly; ,;y face must be one very easily read."
He did not ^jrceive that he had betrayed himself; but
" Yes, very easily read," she said.
He did not like it at all. He stood by her without
speaking, looking at the dancing, and she became more
and more impatient.
At that moment Jack Lee Aston came back from tak-
ing a lady down to supper, and, springing toward Dita, he
said " You are not dancing, and this is such a perfect
valse. May I have the pleasure?" and they plunged into
"They are well matched, "si'id Edward Norton to him-
self; and he bit his lips and asked Mrs. Arthur whether
she would have some supper.
"Oh, how sorry I am that it is over!" cried Dita, as,
inuffled in her white fur cloak, she was put into theonni-
bus by her last partner.
" Good night good night," and they started on their
" Have you enjoyed it much, my dear?" said Mrs. Lee
"Oli! more than I can possibly say."
"She is silly and frivolous," thought Sir Edward.
" What a fuss to make about a ball!"
All the elders, excepting Mrs. Lee Aston, had alreadv
gone on, and the last carriage contained nothing but
young people, and their hostess.
"It has been a capital dance," said Meta; "the Wai-
dons' balls are always good."
" I don't think they ever gave so good a one before,"
said Jack; " bv Jove! it's half-past four, and awfully
By degrees the remarks grew fewer and fewer, and at
last ceased; most of the party dozed, and there arose a del-
icate little ladylike snore from the corner in which Meta
There were about five miles to drive, and when they
had gone about three, they had to pass a railway bridge,
and drive alongside of the line for about ten yards.
Sir Edward was at the end of the omnibus, very far from
sleepy, and looking backward, he saw the train coming;
there were the two brilliant red lights of the night express,
and as it drew near there arose a shrill whistle from the
engine. Jack woke up instantly, saying in a low voice
" These horses won't stand that."
Dita sat up ar.d looked at the two men; the pace of the
carriage was increasing, the horses first cantering, then
Mrs. Lee Aston started up in terror, and clutched hold
of her daughter and Miss Grethard.
" Jack, Jack," she said, " why are we going so fast? tell
Bolton I will not be driven at this pace. Can't you tell
"*'Hush, mother," said Jack, "don't be afraid; the
horses have been frightened by the train they will stop
in a moment."
Meta began to cry, and Miss Grethard and Mrs. Lee
Aston clasped each other; only Perdita said nothing, but
DITA. ' 83
sat quite still. The pace increased more and more, the
omnibus swaying frightfully from side to side.
Meta gave utterance to a wild scream. Dita leant sud-
denly forward and whispered to Sir Edward
" Would it not be better to open the windows?"
"Yes, yon are quite right; "and he proceeded to do so
in spite of the rush of cold air which came in.
" There is a goodish piece of straight road up to t?ie
home farm," said Jack between his teeth to Sir Edward;
"but the corner is bad, if he cannot pull up there."
The carriage rushed on more and more wildly. Some-
tiling dark seemed to flash by them.
"That fool James has jumped off!" exclaimed Jack.
"He must be killed, at this pace." He leaned across
Miss Grethard, stretched out of the window, and shouted
"Any chance of pulling up, Bolton?" There was no
answer, for the man's whole strength was required; but a
side view of the horses with their heads well down and the
foam flying from their bits, told its own tale.
Jack drew his head in, and looking at Sir Ed ward, gave
an almost imperceptible shake of the head. Perdita saw,
and her face grew paler still; she suddenly bent forward
and touched Sir Edward's hands, and stooping very close
to him, whispered
"Sir Ed ward."
" I did not mean to be cross."
His answer was to squeeze her little fingers very tight
then there was a violent rocking, they were pitched from
one side to another a terrific crash, and she knew no
Jack Lee Aston was the first to emerge from the wreck
of the omnibus, and being very active and slight, and
moreover having had the good luck to be on the upper-
most side, he was able to scramble sideways out of the
door. With the help of the coachman, who limped very
much, but had escaped without serious injury, he succeeded
in freeing the horses, who remained quiet, trembling vio-
lently. Then they proceeded to extricate the ladies one
after the other. Dita was taken out quite insensible and
laid on the grass, then Miss Grethard and Meta the latter
84 . DITA.
Mrs. Lee Aston was so unnerved that she entreated to
be allowed to die quietly. Edward Norton had scrambled
and dragged himself out, and when in the open air, to
every one's astonishment, fainted away. Mela's screams
gradually subsided, and she sat sobbing at the side of the
Mrs. Lee Aston once on her feet was quite herself
again, and she and Mabel Grethard, who waa much
shaken and very pale, set to work to try and restore the
two who appeared to be most severely hurt.
The coachman mounted one of the horses, and leading
the other, rode off for assistance.
In about five minutes Perdita opened her eyes; it was
a strange scene the sky was just beginning to glow with
the first gleams of sunrise, and the grass and road were
all brilliant with hoar-frost. They were not really far
from home; but the park wall divided them from the
park, and there would be nearly a mile to skirt it before
they could arrive at the lodge. The inhabitants of the
farm were unfortunately only women the farmer had
gone for the night to some distant market-town, and the
laborers had all gone home to their cottages.
Perdita found Mabel Grethard and Jack both bending
anxiously over her, and she tried to smile and attempt
to sit up, but she could not help giving a cry of pain, and
fell back again.
" Where are you hurt, dear? can you tell me?" asked
" I am afraid my leg is broken, it feels very odd," said
" Oh dear! dear! what a time they are in coming!"
Mrs. Lee Aston was kneeling by Edward Norton, put-
ting eau-de-Cologne to his brow, and chafing his hands;
but there wis not the slightest sign of returning con-
It seemed ages before the carriage arrived with Mr. Lee
Aston, Arthur, and poor Andrew, all in the keenest anx-
iety. Perdita was lifted in, and the ladies followed her.
Arthur and Jack together appropriated the largest
blankets in the farm, and extemporized a sort of litter,
on which they placed the inanimate form of Sir Edward
Norton. Several men had arrived by this time from the
house and the stables, and they started home with (heir
burden as fast as they could go. Before they set out, the
footman, who had jumped off, made his appearance in a
most deplorable condition; his life bad been saved only
by a miracle: lie had thrown himself on the top of a
hedge, which had broken the fall: his face and hands
were torn and scratched, his clothes almost in rags, and
covered with blood; but there seemed to be no serious
Another messenger was sent off for the doctor, who ar-
rived very quickly, but not before the principal sufferers
had been taken up into their rooms,
He pronounced Perdita's leg to be broken a simple
fracture, of no very great consequence. She went through
the setting with heroism, holding Mr. Lee Aston's hand
the while. Over Edward Xorton he would not pronounce
at once. The arm was very badly broken and wrenched;
he had had one elbow out of the window when the car-
riage upset, and the injury was a very bad one. But the
long insensibility might mean internal injury; he could
not say at once. He prepared to stay with him until his
return to consciousness; but before anything else, made
Jack swallow brandy-and-water freely.
CHAPTER XVI I.
BROKEN legs and arms take a long time to get well, es-
pecially when accompanied by such a shaking as the two
invalids had undergone. It was quite three weeks before
they were allowed to come down stairs, and even then
they were both kept upon sofas, and forbidden to move
more than was absolutely necessary.
The autumn had changed info winter cold, bright,
and frosty and they pined to be allowed to go out, and
grew tired of always reading.
In the beginning of her illness, Mrs. Lovel was able to
come for a short time to see Perdita; but after staying a
few days, she felt obliged to return home, fora recurrence
of the palpitation of the heart, to which she was so sub-
ject, made her nervous lest she also should be laid up
there. There was a change coming over Andrew now; he
looked far older, and lost much of the self-confidence for
which he used to be so conspicuous. The truth wa?,
that his eyes were at last opening to the fact that Nannie
was ill, very ill; that the doctors looked grave after seeing
her, and gave him their opinion in unmeaning phrases.
In the absence of Perdita they were thrown more to-
gether than they had been for many years. One day
Andrew even called his wife Nannie again, and the color
flushed into her face, and the tears into her eyes, with
joy. He came and sat down on the sofa beside her, and
she leant her head on his shoulder.
"You know it now, honey, do you not?" she said,
" That I never can be well."
"That is nonsense, my dear," he said, hurriedly. " We
will go to some German baths in the early summer; they
will make you as strong as ever."
"Maybe," said Nannie, sighing it seemed to her
dreadful to go away from home on a long journey
" maybe; but it seems to me that I would rather die here
quietly than away in foreign places."
"You are weak, nnd it makes you low," he said,
eagerly "what Dr. Grant calls unconquerable nervous
depression; nothing like Gorman waters for that. We'll
have you as strong as ever, sweetheart."
"Andrew, do you mind the little back-yard, where
Dita used to play?"
"And the swing you made of my mother's old rocking-
chair, and the child's beautiful hair that you loved so,
and I would so lief have cut off? I am glad I let it grow."
Andrew shaded his eyes with his hand: why would she
talk of all these things now?
"And your play, Andrew, will it ever be finished? I
fear me, never, though it was grand enough then, when
we were but humble. You never read Shakespeare now,
"I have no time now," said he, in a stifled voice.
"No," she said, thoughtfully, "no time. Riches
bring troubles and cares and weariness more than joys."
"Not to me," lie said.
"You do not know it yet," she laid, softly; "not yet
DITA. ' 87
But we were happier then; I was a better wife then than
I have been since."
"Oh, Nannie, Nannie!"
"It is a long time ago," she went on. "I remember,
years ago, that my father went over to Alderney and
brought me home for a dairy pet a young heifer from
there. Oh, she was a pretty creature was Daisy! her coat
was like satin, and her eyes for all the world like our
Dita's; but she did not live. The food was very rich, she
was kept like a princess, and housed against storm and
rain; but she grew thinner and thinner, and pined away.
She missed the old scenes she loved; the friends of her
youth; the poor shed in which she had lived. Some could
bear it, but she could not, nor could I."
"Nannie, wife, you do not think of me. What should
I do, were you to go?"
" You will have Dita, honey, and she is a more fit com-
panion for you than poor humble Nannie."
" Ah! she is not of us she too will fly away. Nannie,
wait a little time for me; let us go together."
She stroked his cheek gently with her hand, deling the
hot tears running down. "All in God's good time,
honey," she said, softly.
It was a brilliant October day, keen, fresh, and invig-
orating, and all the Lee Aston party were out excepting
the two invalids.
It seemed to Sir Edward a wayward fate that he should
thus be forced into daily companionship with the very
young lady he had been most auxious'to avoid, but it was
On the -first day of Perdita's reappearance down stairs,
Jack had tried his chance with her, and failed. The
events of that unfortunate night had increased his admira-
tion for Miss Lovel to genuine lore, and he took away with
him on a fishing expedition in Norway a sharper pain in
his honest heart than his friend at all suspected.
Meanwhile the boasted philosophy of Edward Norton
was in danger; he could not help passing hours in the
day with Perdita; he had tried being wheeled into the
billiard-room, but a great deal of shooting was going on,
and the men were constantly out, and as he did not at all
relish solitude, he returned to the drawing-room, where
be and Perdita were placed on opposite sides of a window,
and enjoyed many a heaity laugh over the absurdity ot
the position, especially when a visitor was announced
whonn neither could rise to receive for Norton was even
less able to move than Dita, the doctors pronouncing that
to keep his shoulder motionless was of the utmost impor-
On one occasion, all the party being out, each took up
a book, and for a time only the ticking of the clock broke
the silence. At last Sir Edward, who had furtively been
watching Dita for some minutes, began
" Miss Level."
"Is your hook amusing?"
"No;" and she stifled a yawn.
" Then do put it down and talk, I am so bored,"
" So am I, but I was too polite to say so."
" I beg your pardon, Miss Lovel what are you read-
" 'The Widow's Bequest."
"Trash, is it not?"
" I suppose it is; but I have read so few novels that,
generally speaking, even trash amuses me."
" It must be very nice to be so easily amused," said Sir
"I have a piece of gossip in my pocket," said Dita,
eagerly, "that I am sure will interest you. Mrs. Lee
Aston had a letter from Lady Armine."
" A marriage?"
" Quite right; Mabel Grethard is engaged to be mar-
" Who is the happy man? Lucky for him that he did
not hear the eldritch yell that she uttered in the carriage."
"No, no, no!" cried Dita, laughing, "that was Meta;
and I do not at all wonder at her being frightened."
" Yes, I apologize; of course it was. Miss Grethard
was very quiet and useful also."
" And Meta's shriek was very pardonable."
" But it was on terrdfirmd she shrieked Jack told me
so," he continued.
" You were insensible, Miss Lovel, so you cannot
"So were you insensible," she said, gayly.
DITA. * 89
" WeH, Jack had all his wits about him, and he thought
she had fainted; and when he went to lift her up, she
uttered so sudden a scream that he fell backward. But
to return to your news, who is the lucky man?"
" His name is Macmonach Angus Macrnonach and
he is a very rich Scotch laird, with a fine old castle called
Dnnmonaigh, in a most beautiful part of the country."
"Highly satisfactory: any drawbacks?"
" He is not as young as she might have wished, Lady
Armine says," said Dita. " I think him a very good age;
I don't like very young people he is forty- five."
" Eighteen; it is certainly a great difference."
" He has beeii a long time making up his mind," said
" You are determined not to take my piece of news
nicely," said Dita, laughing; "but it is deeply interest-
ing to me. Though I have seen so little of her, Mabel is
the only girl-friend I have she is so good and merry and
charming, and she is very pretty."
" Keally, do you think so?"
"Yes, I admire her lovely brown hair, and her eyes;
and she was vory kind to me," said Dita, eagerly.
"Is anybody ever unkind to you?" said Sir Edward,
" Oh yes. you were."
" 1! What can you mean?"
" Nothing," said Perdita, blushing rosy red with con-
fusion; "I did not mean to say it."
" I know what you mean," said he; then he suddenly
bit his lips and stopped.
" You must have taken a great dislike to poor little
me," said Dita, with a very little touch of pathos in her
" Dislike! Miss Lovel, would to heaven that "
Again he stopped himself. Perdita went on hurriedly
" You once did a very kind thing for me, for which I
feel grateful now."
" I am so glad," he answered, recovering himself.
"What was it?"
" You saved my little dog from a watery grave."
" Oh, I had quite forgotten, it; it was one of those little
beasts made of wadding, was it not? I remember how it
" I think it would have broken my heart to have lost
Fluff then," said Dita. "It was bad enough when I was
"When did it die?"
" About six years ago, when I was twelve years old."
" Old enough to be more stoical."
" I was very far fr6m being stoical; I cried more in two
days than I ever cried in my whole life, before or since."
"Is it stuffed?"
" Oh, yes; Jaques had it stuffed, and it is in my bed-
room at home."
'' Happy Fluff to be so mourned. What a very pretty
little girl you were at the time of Fluff's adventure!"
"\'es, I must have been quite a little darling! I have
seen my picture, with such a cloud of hair."
' You were not nearly so nice afterward. I remember
you asking me what was the principal river in Japan, and
being quite scandalized when I did not know; and then
your hair was done up, and you never would climb, or
fish, or paddle, and had that straight-backed Miss Grimes
always with you."
''Poor Miss Grimes, who always prided herself on her
ladylike deportment; I fear I gave her a great deal of
" By- the- bye, what has become of your faithful follower,
the big man with the red hair?"
" Jaques? Oh, he is all right; he lives with his mother
and looks after the books. He plays the violin divinely:
have you ever heard him?"
" No, never. Is he as great a curiosity as ever?"
" Oh, no, he only looks a very quiet and rather bent
student; and as he has grown such a large red beard, you
would hardly know him."
" And are you still as fond of him as you used to be?"
"I should think so! I love him, dear old Jaques. He
taught me far more than Miss Grimes did, and he is my
mother's most devoted friend!"
" I hope she is better now?" asked Sir Edward.
" She is always much about the same," answered Dita,
sadly. " Poor dear mother!"
" My mother is very fond of her," said he,
! A.. 91
"Yes, she is the greatest comfort to poor mammie; 1
do not know what she would do without her daily v
and it is so very kind of her not to mind coming to Sal-
They were on dangerous ground, and Dita caught
herself up quickly. She feared that she must have
hurt his feelings, for he said nothing for some minutes,
"I suppose you will go to London this spring?"
" No, we are going to Badfeld for the baths. Dr. Grant
thinks that they will do my mother good."
" What a nuisance! I mean for you."
" Oh, no; I shall enjoy the fun of it: it w.ill be quite
new to me."
They went on talking till the walking-party came in
and tea was ordered. Every one was full of Mabel Gret-
hard's marriage. Arthur had once met Angus Macmo-
nach when shooting in the north of Scotland, and had
been invited to pass a night at Dunmonaigh. He said
that Lady Armine's admiration was by no means exag-
gerated; and described the position of the grand old house,
with the heather-chid hills protecting it from behind, and
the deep, clear loch in front.
"Miss Grethard will be a strangely modern element in
that romantic old place," he said, " with her Paris boots
and gloves. I am glad Macmonach is to be married; it
would have been sad for that good old family to have died
" What sort of a man is he?" asked Mrs. Arthur.
" He is a very queer, quiet fellow. It is a curious case
of defeated ambition. The man is exceedingly clever,
but he is manque."
"How sad!'' said Mrs. Lee Aston, sealing a letter.
" In what way do you mean?" asked Perdita.
"It is difficult to say why. He tried elaborate farming,
and was defeated by the impossibility of cultivation in
that grand mountain country, that ran away with money,
destroyed the peat that is absolutely essential for fuel,
and frightened the game. Then he tried Parliament he
made some able speeches in his first session. He was a
Conservative, of course; and at the last election a loud-
talking Radical went down to Dunmonaigh, and defeated
him on his own ground an unheard-of catastrophe; bu>
they say the family influence has gone rapidly down of
late they used to carry all before them."
" Is he unpopular?"
"Undoubtedly. He is a very odd man, with a sort of
irritability about him. He calls his people by the wrong
names, and knows nothing about them or their families."
"That never answers in Scotland," said Meta.
" No, indeed, it tries the stanchest loyalty. His mother
is a magnificent specimen of the feudal chatelaine"
" Let me see who was she?" said Mrs. Arthur.
" A Fitz-James; they have royal blood in their veins.
She must have been very handsome, and is now one of the
grandest-looking old ladies I ever saw, but so dignified
that Mabel's life will be a burden to her at first."
" Is this Angus the only son?" asked Sir Edward.
" Yes; there was another, but he died was killed
hunting or something, not long after his father's death."
"Poor Lady Griselda," said Mrs. Lee Aston, kindly.
THE next morning was so fine that every one went out
except Mrs. Lee Aston and the invalids; the former had
letters to write and retired to her sitting-room, after see-
ing that her guests were well supplied with books. Edward
Norton, who had passed a sleepless night, was disposed to
be melancholy. Perdita, on the contrary, was in brilliant
"I am to get upon crutches to-morrow," she said,
gayly; "and once upon the crutches, I may as well pack
up my goods and chattels, and relieve Mrs. Lee Aston of
my most troublesome presence."
*" I wish I could be tinkered up as easily as you," said
Sir Edward, movkig uneasily.
"But your shoulder is going on all right, is it not?"
said Dita, anxiously.
"I hope so oh!" he became suddenly very pale.
"What is it? Can I help you?"
"If I come to you, do you Miink that you could move
my bandage? it is displaced there to the right. Oh, thank
you; by Jove! it did hurt. As he knelt beside her, she
gently put the bandages right.
" Go and lie down," she said, " and keep perfectly
quiet: you do not look well to-day."
" Don't 1? Well, I never closed my eyes all night with
the pain. I think Griffiths lias tied me up too tight, or
something; it seems to get worse every day." And he lay
back on his sofa, looking pule and exhausted.
Presently he began again, " Do you think me a great
muff, Miss Lovel? I am a very bad hand at bearing pain."
" I know that some people are much more sensitive
than others, and in consequence actually suffer more."
" That is quite true. There was a poor fellow whom I
knew once who actually died of pain."
" What a terrible thing!"
" I think very serious pain would soon put an end to
me," he said.
" No, that could only happen in rare cases. I think
people must get used to suffering after a time."
" I think people ought to be allowed to put their friends
out of pain quietly, when it is beyond endurance."
"It would be a very tempting power," said Dita, half
laughing. " Supposing I had put you out of your pain
quietly just now, what would your feelings have been?"
" Perhaps it would have been as well," said Sir Edward,
" More comfortable for you than for me. But seri-
ously," she said, "I always think that the natural cling-
ing to life which we all have, in spite of pain, trouble, and
sickness, is a special gift from God."
"Do you think so?" said he. "I had always looked
upon it as an additional trouble, adding to the horrors
" That is not my view," said Dita, gravely. " Our
business is to live, and to live properly, and to do a certain
amount of duty and service during our life. If the
service were very, very hard, and we were weary and in
pain, our longing for death would be overpowering, and
would perhaps unfit us to bear the burden, were it not
for that instinctive love of life with which we are en-
" Is it love of life, or is it fear of the physical terrors
of dying the shrinking of th human soul from the
borders of the Unknown Land?"
"I think," said Perdita, "that they are all part of
the instinct I speak of. The holiest man I ever knew,"
ehe continued reverently, bending her head, "was the
bishop who confirmed me. I only saw him once or twice,
but no one could be with him without carrying away some
good, some wish to be better. And he, this great man,
who lived like a saint, had a great dread of death, surely
sent to prevent him from yearning to leave the world in
which his life was so valuable."
" And is he dead?" asked Edward, deeply interested.
" Yes, he is dead. He was spared the knowledge that
he was dying: he slept on earth and awoke in heaven."
Edward sighed. "I believe you are right," he said;
"and to take a more practical view, it would be a selfish
tiling to wish to die merely for your own comfort that is,
should you leave friends to regret you."
"How does your arm feel now?" asked Dita, changing
"It hurts me so much," he answered, "that I think
the sooner I can run up to London and have it looked
after the better. But do not disturb yourself, Miss
Lovel; it is much more comfortable than it was."
" I hope it has been properly set," said Dita, anxiously.
" I do not feel sure: when I tell Griffiths of the con-
tinuous pain he looks surprised, and that is suspicions;
but I have got it into an easy attitude just now."
" I am so glad," and Perdita took up her book.
"Oh, you are not going to read? That is too bad!"
" We talk so much," said Dita, "that I consider that I
ought to read a little sometimes."
"Not just now," said he, imploringly. "You can
read when the people come in."
Dita laughed. "I am expecting a visitor this morn-
ing." she said.
"Is his real name Jaques?" asked Sir Edward. "And
I have often wondered how you came by your wonderful
name! 'Were you christened by it?"
"No," she answered, the color mounting into her
cheeks. "My real name is Margaret Margaret Griselda;
but my father had a great passion for Shakespeare then,
so I was named after that flower-loving heroine."
" And the melancholy Jaques?"
" The same, his real name is James."
" He is a very queer kind of fellow to be so much at
home with all of you," said Sir Edward, curiously.
Dita laughed. "He was my earliest and dearest play-
fellow," she said. " And though you may think him
ugly, I think his rough face quite beautiful. You should
see him when he is playing the violin, or poring over some
new and very old book it is a great triumph of expres-
sion and feature."
" Must I go away when your melancholy Jaques comes?"
"Oh no, why should you? If he had his violin I
would make him play it, but I am afraid there is no chance
" Who knows? If he is such an enthusiast perhaps he
will have it fastened on his back as a troubadour has his
guitar, or borne behind him by a beautiful page. Talk
of the "
"Hush," said Dita, for the servant announced "Mr.
Danby," and Jaques walked in.
It was still a matter of difficulty for Jaqnes to get across
the room, especially when he saw that Perdita was not
alone; and she was relieved when she saw him safely seated,
facing her, between the two sofas.
" You have not brought your violin, I suppose, Jaques?"
said Dita, eagerly.
" No yes; I could fetch it if you wish it, Miss Lovel."
" Go back five miles! certainly not. I would not dream
"In the afternoon," he muttered.
" Not this afternoon, but one day if you would. I want
Sir Edward Norton to hear you play so much."
Jaques raised his eyes, and viewed the other invalid
with a rather strange look.
" He is taking my measure," thought Sir Edward,
" and uncommonly close too." And he said aloud, " Miss
Lovel has told me so much of the extreme beauty of your
playing, tluit I am most anxious to hear you."
Jaques bowed, and the color flushed into his face, as it
always did when Perdita praised him.
" Are you coming home soon, Miss Dita?" he said pres-
ently, "you are so much wanted at home."
"Is my mother not so well?" cried Dita, anxiously.
"Oh no. your mother is just the same neither better
nor worse," he said, with a sigh; " but Mr. Lovel is quite
lost without you, and he won't give Adams any orders
while you are away."
" Miss Lovel cannot possibly move before the doctors
give their permission," said Sir Edward, hastily.
" Oh no, no, of course not. How are you getting on,
Miss Dita? I had hoped that you were nearly well."
" So I am, and I hope to come home in two or three
days at the latest, Jaques," she said. "I know that poor
mammie must want me, and I do so long to see her again.
Are you going to stay at home just now?"
"No, I am off to-morrow again to Paris; there is a
great sale to take place there, and I have heard of one or
two valuable books that I should like to see."
"It is dreadful to a scholar to lose a book on which he
lias set his heart," said Sir Edward, addressing himself to
Perdita. " My friend Blackmore was telling me the other
day of his having once just missed the chance of De Bry's
English Virginians which is extraordinarily rare by the
"What did you say the name was, sir?" said Jaques,
"Blackmore Mr. John Blackmore." He stopped sur-
prised, for Jaques uttered a loud explosive chuckle, and
then immediately resumed his former gravity.
" How was it?" asked Perdita, a little ashamed of the
behavior of her friend.
" He was bargaining for the book at one of those book-
seller's shops, and the first day he had to do with the
master, who seemed a pliable sort of man enough, so he
offered him a low price, but he would not swallow that;
so he went away, and returning the next day, he found
only the shopman, an awkward kind of lad, but who knew
twice as much about the value of the books as did his
master. And this creature this Caliban, as he called
him kept him dangling day after dr\y, and on the very
day on which he had made up his mind to pay the whole
price demanded, he coolly informed him that the shop
was closed, and that they were going to retire from busi-
Another loud chuckle from Jaques, but he said noth-
" It seems to please you that poor Mr. Blackmore
should have been disappointed, Mr. Danby," said Sir
" Oh, not at all; no, no, sir," faltered Jaques.
"When Blackmore told me about it," went on Sir
Edward, turning toDita, and smiling, "the tears were in
his eyes. He said that he had never got over the bitter-
ness of that disappointment, though it happened many
years ago; and he finished the story with a not very polite
interjection in respect to his enemy."
" Poor man," said Dita laughing merrily. Encouraged
by her example, Jaques gave way to an irrepressible fit of
laughter. He struggled, he choked, he tried to stifle it in
a huge pocket-handkerchief; it became nervous, and he
was obliged to get up, and, hastily saying good-by, leave
"What an extraordinary creature!" said Sir Ed ward:
" what could he find in my story to put him into such an
" I fancy that he must have known something about it
all before," said Perdita; "but Jaques is always upset by
fa joke, and is one of those unlucky people who cannot
control laughter if it gets beyond a certain point."
"I confess that I did not perceive the joke. I never
saw such a person."
"Aii, you do not know how good he is!" cried Dita.
"He is a rough diamond indeed."
"Unfortunately," said Sir Edward, coldly, "one of
the innate faults of my character is an excess of dislike to
what is unrefined. I am too fastidious, for merit gives
me no pleasure without polish."
" You speak of this as a fault in a tone that betrays
that you are proud of ir,"said Perdita. indignantly.
" I beg your pardon," said he.
" You have nothing for which to beg my pardon.
Ah " She fancied suddenly that he was asking her
pardon, because he meant to include her own relations in
the sweeping speech he had made. The color rushed into
her face, her nostrils dilated, her eyes flashed, she looked
" I understand what you mean," she said, slowly. " I
am obliged to you for undeceiving me in the belief that
there might have been friendship between us it is at an
end; but though it may be wrong to say so, Sir Edward,
I have the courage to say that, in some cases at least, the
parvenu may be the truer gentleman."
After this she ought to have left the room, there was
no doubt about it; but as the fates would have it, her leg
was broken, and his shoulder out of joint and badly set;
neither could move, and at least an hour must elapse be-
fore any interruption could come. Eacli took up a book,
but each saw that the other was not reading, and both
were very angry indeed. She had called him, or at least
had as good as told him, that he was not so true a gentle-
man as old Andrew Lovel; and he had spoken words that,
as she understood them, she could not easily forgive. The
clock struck twelve then its single stroke announced
" They are a long time coming in," said Sir Edward,
No answer. Sir Edward went back to his book.
Presently Mrs. Lee Aston came in.
" It is very fortunate that you two can entertain each
other," she said, good-humored ly; " for I am obliged to
go down to the lodge to see a child there who has burnt
her foot, and the others will not be home till luncheon.
But I have devised a new plan of amusement for you; I
am going to push your sofa nearer to the window, Dita, so
that you and Sir Edward can play chess."
" I am so much interested in my book," said Perdita.
"But I have finished mine," cried Sir Edward.
"Very well, I will just put you where you can play if
you like. There is that comfortable?"
" The light hurts my eyes," said Dita, ungraciously.
"There is that better?" and their good-natured
hostess pulled down one of the blinds.
" Thank you," they both said, and Mrs. Lee Astou bus-
They were close together, and neither could move, and
yet they had had a deadly quarrel, and it was an hour and
a half to luncheon.
They raised their eyes at the same moment; there was
something irresistibly funny in the situation, and in spite
of their anger they both laughed. Sir Edward was the
first to speak.
" It was really and truly a thoughtless speech, Miss
DITA. 1 J'J
Lovel," he said. "I declare that I meant nothing that
could offend you. Good heavens! what would you have
"Well, perhaps you did not," she said, slowly.
"After my apology I expect one confession from you."
"None," said Perdita, decidedly,
" Yes, I have earned it; and it is this he is a Caliban,
is he not?"
"Yes, he is a Caliban."
"Very well, so be it," she said inpatiently.
" And you are Miranda, and I am Ferdinand, and so
we will play chess," he said, beginning to arrange the
"Then," said Perdita, hesitatingly, "you do not mind
about what I said."
"No," said he, superbly; "you were in a passion."
"I wish I could have walked out of the room," said
" Yes, but heaven interfered. "
The game lasted until the whole party came in to
luncheon. The extreme pleasure he took in this daily
intercourse with Perdita at last opened Sir Edward Nor-
ton's eyes lie was deeply, devotedly in love with her.
This only was wanting to show him that the obstacles he
himself had raised were very slight in reality. A man
must be ungenerous who will not owe fortune to the wom-
an lie loves and generosity was as strong an element
as pride in his composition. It was enough that he loved
her, the world might say what it would. Some painful
ordeals would have to be faced: he would have to see An-
drew in authority in his own hereditary home, he would
have to owe fortune and Perdita and Salford all to this
man; but all would be nothing if she would consent to be
his wife. He now gave himself up to the enjoyment of
the present: never had he made himself so charming, never
had he been so gay, so almost boyishly light-hearted; and
as Perdita shyly received his attentions, his hope became
stronger and stronger that she was not indifferent to him.
" Nannie," said Andrew to his wife one day, "some
day we shall lose our little Dita."
" What makes you say so?'' she asked, startled.
"I have just returned from Lee Aston, and Perdita
comes home to-morrow, and Sir Ed \vard goes back to the
Grange, and he is to go up to London at once to have his
"Well?" said Nannie.
" When he comes back we shall see him again.
' The sweet youth's in lovel' "
IT was December, and all the heather-bloom was dead
n the hills round Dnnmonaigb, and its brown hue gave
a deep russet color to the landscape; here and there a
larch's yellowed foliage gleamed like gold, but all the
leaves were gono from the hard-wood trees.
The snow had not yet fallen, nor had there been frost
enough to bind the lake with ice.
The ceremony of receiving the chief and his bride had
always been gone through with the same formalities.
The carriages drove to the further end of the lake, and
bride and bridegroom were rowed across to the -castle
by twelve of the best men of the clan.
The marriage had taken place in England, and it .was
the 20th of December before Lady Grisel stood waiting
for the home-coming.
Master Malcolm, whose hair was as white as snow,
seemed as anxious as the mother herself. What would
she be like, this young English bride, who was coming
among them? Lady Grisel knew little of her had only
seen that she was very young, and fair, and childish.
She sat unright by the fire, her hands clasped together.
Time had wrought little change in her had brought a
little more silver into her hair, more softness into the fine
dark eyes; little but that, for her life had been still and
monotonous. And it is the storm-tossed rock that is
broken, not that which is washed by the slow dash of even
Still and monotonous! Years ago what a fate would
that have seemed to Grisclda Fitz- James! She never
knew when her ambition died, nor traced the cause of its
decease; but after Ewau's death, her old longing that
Angus should make to himself a name and position be-
came chastened and subdued, and in his successes and
failures her rejoicing and disappointment were only .
pathetic she hardly knew herself.
Angus also was changed, and the wealth he had longed
for so eagerly seemed to weigh on his spirits like lead.
The mother and son did nothing to rouse each other,
and the years slipped by.
"What o'clock is it now, Minister?" said Lady Grisel,
' " Just three they should be here sooner: not yet Lady
Grisel," he added; " we shall hear the shouts and the
bagpipes as they approach, and it will be time enough
then to go to the door."
"Poor bride! it is cold," said Lady Grisel, shivering.
"Cold without, but right warm within," said the
" It will seem very strange to her; Angus and I have
grown rusty together," said the mother, anxiously. "And
when I think of a blithe young girl coming to share our
quiet life, I fear for her happiness. I hope he will be
kind to her," she said, nervously.
"She will bring sunshine to the old place," said Master
Malcolm, with a sigh and a smile. " It will be good for
all to have the youth and sweetness of a bonnie lassie
among us Angus is far too grave."
"He is more than grave," she said; "he is gloomy,
and easily irritated, and but seldom smiles or laughs
poor little bride! but it will be different now, will it not?''
" Yes," answered he, smiling. "All cannot have the
same spirits as poor Ewan; even now I can fancy I hear
his clear ringing laugh and halloo to the dogs on the
"Natures are different," she said, very low. "But
there was a time when Angus also was gay. I have been
but a bad companion; my company has sent mirth flying
with outspread wings."
" Yet Angus's gravity has won him the maiden of his
heart," said the Minister; "and we hear that she is good,
and loving, and pretty."
"God grant her happiness," said Lady Grisel.
" Hark! is that not music?"
"I think not; we will see," lie opened the door, and
Lady Grisel went out on the steps, and shading her eyes
with her hand, looked over the loch.
Nothing was to be seen yet; hnt far away sounded
faintly the shrill wild music of the bagpipes. She re-
mained standing on the steps, and the water washed al-
most up to her feet: it looked very deep and gray, and
the castle threw a dark, undefined shadow over it only
the scarlet flag reflecting a blood-red stain.
" The day of our home-coming," said Lady Grisel,
dreamily, "was all joy and sunshine; the loch sparkled
like diamonds, and the hills glowed with crimson heather
and golden gorse. It -was many years ago, Minister, and
the days seem to me types of the life at Dunmonaigh then
and no'w, and when I look into my own heart, I read that
the fault is mine."
"Do not be afraid, Lady Grisel, said Master Malcolm
again. "The bride will bring with her her own store of
happiness, and you must arouse yourselves, and be gay
for her sake; and by-and-by when she has taken root here,
you will hear her singing about the house as all happy
lassies do. Come in, it is very cold."
"No, no listen!"
Now on the ear swelled the music louder and louder,
and the sound of ever-increasing cheering, till round a
bend of the loch the little fleet of boats swept swiftly.
Lady Grisel strained her eyes, till in the foremost boat
she could see Angus with his young bride. Flags and
streamers flying from the boats, made the scene brilliant
with color, and the pipers played with enthusiasm the
welcome of Clan Mouach to their chief and his bride.
Onward, with long sweeping strokes, came the foremost
boat, and swept up to the steps. The two first of the
ir. en leaped out, and crossing their dirks behind the bride
co 'ducted her to Lady Grisel, who received her into her
" Welcome! welcome!" was all she could say, as she
drew them in to the warm fireside.
Her heart was so full, she could only look at them, and
Angus's cheek flushed, and his restless eyes more rest-
less than usual; he grasped Master Malcolm's hand with a
pressure that was more convulsive than affectionate, and
he walked up and down the room.
Mabel sat by the fire with her warm white furs all round
her. She looked a fair sweet specimen of a young En-
glish girl; the color came and went in her cheek, and her
soft eyes followed every movement of her husband's.
Lady Grisel's strong emotion puzzled and confused her,
and after the first warm kiss she knew not how to act.
At last the servants announced that the crowd had
abandoned their boats, and gathered again; and Lady
Grisel led the way to the great door. She passed out first
and then presented the bride to the people with a solemn
movement, as if she went through some strange old cere-
mony. Then the Minister presented to her the keys of
the castle, and in the sight of the crowd, she handed them
to the new-wedded chatelaine.
The cheering and music began again, louder and louder,
only checked for Angus to utter a few words of thanks.
Then the servants came out, and some went in, and
there was feasting and drinking and dancing in the great
stone kitchen, and cheering and shouts of welcome, far
into the night.
" PERDITA! come here, Perdita!" Andrew came into
the great hall in search of the child.
" I am here," she said, putting her fair head up from
the low seat in the cloister window. "Why so formal,
daddy? Mine is a strange case! I have two long dignified
names of my own, another softer name by which I am
named, and even that is shorn of its first syllable, unless
you wish to make use of me, and send mammie a mes-
sage per Dita."
" Saucy child, 1 must run your errands now that you
" Ah! I can walk alone now see!" and disdaining her
crutches, Perdita put out her arms for balance, and came
" There, that is enough!" cried Andrew, eagerly push-
ing a chair to her. ft Don't be imprudent; sit down and
arrange this bouquet," and he threw a great bunch of flow'
ers on the table.
Perdita began to separate thorn, and Andrew sat down
by her. " Your mother looks much better, Dita, does she
" A thousand million times better," she answered, gay-
ly. " I am sure Dr. Grant understands her, and every
time you quote Shakespeare, daddy, it is like atonic to
" Perdita arranging flowers and not talking Shakespeare,
is an anomaly; begin at once, young lady," said Andrew.
"Here's flowers for 3-011,
Hot lavender, mints, savory, marjoram;
The marigold that goes to bed wi' the sun,
And with him rises weeping; these are flowers
Of middle summer, and I think they are given
To men of middle age. You're very welcome."
"Bravo!" cried Perdita. "Is not that an apt quota-
tion.? I have not recited my Perdita speeches since I was
a very little child, and had a beautiful long mane. What
an orchid, daddy! Do tell Adams to grow a great many
more of this kind."
" Orchids! orchids! where do you find orchids in
Shakespeare? All old-fashioned flowers for me."
" You must introduce orchids in your own plays, then.
Of course lie would have introduced them if he had seen
such beauties as these; they are more like the flowers of
Paradise than of earth," she said, enthusiastically.
" Yes, especially that monkey-faced specimen," said
Mr. Lovel, with supreme contempt.
l/i ta Jttrtgnea. They have a new one at the Lee
Astons'," she said, "which I had never seen before. Mrs.
Lee Aston promised to tell me the name, but I forgot it."
" Were you very happy there?" asked Andrew, rather
"Oh, so very, very happy!" answered Dita. "They
were all more kind to me than I could express. Hark!
do you hear Jaque's violin?"
There came to their ears a lovely, far -distant sound,
rising and falling, passing through strange cadences, now
sweet, now straining, then swelling into those yearning
sounds which make the listener feel as if the musician
played on his very heart-strings.
Neither spoke while it lasted, but when the musk
broke off abruptly in an nnfinisi-ed passage, they looked
at each other in astonishment.
" I never heard Jaques do that before, what can have
happened?" said Perdita. " Dear d.iddy, an you love me,
look out of the drawing-room window the sound of the
music comes from the shrubbery and tell me whether
Jaques lives, or has fallen dead!"
The sound of the violin was again heard as of a hand
dashed across it a curious twanging discord, all out of
tune like a breaking heart. Perdita gave a little shiver
and turned to her flowers; some of the ferns had been too
long out of water and were dead, and she threw them
Andrew returned from the window, saying, gayly,
" Jaques's abrupt ending was owing to the arrival of a
visitor. You will find it hard to believe, Dita. It was
Sir Edward Norton, who has at last made up his mind to
come under the roof of Salford Abbey."
The color flushed into Dita's face, and she turned away
her head; but Andrew saw it, and the shy sweet smile on
her lips, and he smiled and sighed.
Five, ten minutes passed and he did not come in, then
Andrew went once more to the drawing-room window.
''Sir Edward has stopped to have a little conversation
with Jaques," he said. ''They are under the oak-tree;
he has fastened the reins of his horse to a branch; they
are going into the shrubbery."
'* I think mammie must be down by this time," was
Perdita's answer; and, taking the prettiest flowers, she
went to Mrs. Lovel's room.
" 'Ban, 'Ban Ca-Caliban,
Has a new master Get a new man.
Freedom! heyday 1"
Quotations are infectious, and Sir Edward muttered
these words- to himself as he rode up the road and espied
Jaques's uncouth figure playing on the lawn.
The music broke short with that strange twang, and
he also shuddered, and wondered at the jar of the nerves
it produced. And lo! Caliban strode across his path,
and, hand on rein, entreated for five minutes' conversa-
Sir Edward, much surprised, dismounted very unwill-
ingly. His horse was a quiet old animal, fitted to carry
a man with one arm in a sling, and he tied him to a tree
and signified to Jaques that he was ready to listen to him.
It seemed doubly hard just now he was going to meet
his fate; to lay all his love, his pride, his poverty at the
feet of his fair lady; and the hope that he had won her
love made all sacrifice seem as nothing to him.
What could Jaques have to say to him? His rugged
face was as pale as ashes, and his eyes were troubled.
"We cannot talk here, sir," he said, rather hoarsely.
"Would you mind coming a few steps with me into the
" I do not mind standing, Mr. Danby, and we can speak
just as well here. I am rather in haste."
"I will not keep you that is - "
"You will forgive me, if I ask you not to detain me
long. If you could call on me at the Grange, for instance,
I should be able to attend to you better."
"No, now I must speak to you now, sir."
"Very well," said Sir Edward, impatiently; " I am all
" For what object have you overcome your horror of
entering your old home?"
" You presume, Mr. Danhy: that is a question you have
no right to ask."
"I have a right!" cried Jaques; "and if you will have
patience with me, I will show you that I have a right."
Sir Edward leaned against the great oak-tree, and
looked at Jaques in increased astonishment.
" I decline to answer your question, Mr. Danby," he
Jaques raised his eyes and again looked at him with
that earnest look that had made Edward Norton feel that
he was endeavoring to read him through and through;
then he said abruptly
I cannot talk here, Sir Edward; we are in full view of
the windows; for Heaven's sake do what I beg of you
Edward Norton's curiosity was aroused, and, tighten-
ing the bridle on the branch of the tree, he followed
Jaques, who strode on before him into the wood.
Danby thrust aside the boughs, and as he did so the
remaining dead leaves rustled to the ground, and he
poshed his way into a small open space where two paths
crossed, and there was a seat; it was well shut in from
sight. He threw himself on the seat, and stooping for-
ward covered his eyes with one hand, the elbow resting on
.his knee, and began to speak at once.
"Sir Edward," he said, "I take you for a man of
He did not see the half-mocking bow of assent.
" I wish to save you from either committing an action
that you will always regret, or one that you cannot do
without forfeiting that honor."
" You speak in riddles, Mr. Danby."
" Sir Edward, I am not clever or even clear-sighted,
but I have discerned your love for our Perdita."
"I desire you to be silent, sir," said Edward Norton,
angrily. " These matters concern no one but myself, and
I will not permit Miss Lovel's name to be used. You
assume too much."
" Has no one feelings but yourself?" cried Jaques, start-
ing up. "She is my adoration; she has been my idol
since I first taught her little feet to walk, her sweet
voice to lisp my name; for years, years have I loved her
you have only known her a few short weeks."
" This is intolerable," muttered Sir Edward.
" I did not call you to tell you that!" went on Jaques,
excitedly. " I called you to prove your love; to find out
whether it has power to break through the traditions of
your haughty race. Have you considered well?" he said,
in a strange, hard voice. " Perdita is not your equal."
" Hush! I will not detain you; but have patience with
me, 1 beseech you."
Something pathetic in the voice of the strange being
before him made Sir Edward put aside his indignation
and resolve to listen.
"You have considered how far beneath you she is in
" That the Lovels are of very humble origin: he a book-
seller in London, she a petty farmer's daughter, trained
to milk the cows."
" You know them to be honest; good, and true, al-
though such homely folks."
"Yes all else is nothing."
"You know that the world will say that, for the sake
of Salford, you have bowed your pride to wed the daughter
of a tradesman."
"I do not care."
" Your love, then, is strong enough to overcome more
obstacles than these?"
'There are no more "
"Man! man!" cried Jaques, eagerly, "you are not
"In everything!" cried Sir Edward; "for she brings
such a dower of goodness and innate nobility, that my
poor advantages of birth scarcely level the scale."
" You love her so well that if if "
" What do you mean?" cried Sir Edward.
" This, you think to wed the child of honest folks
a bride whose birth, though of humble origin, is as honest
as your own. This is not so."
" What do you mean? Speak, or I will wring it from
you," and he seized his arm.
"Perdita is no child of theirs; they took her orphaned
from the workhouse, mid she has no name."
Sir Edward staggered back against the tree as white as
death. Jaqnes laughed bitterly.
"This straw has broken the camel's back," he said.
"Yes, it is quite true, she is no fit bride for you, too
low of birth, and a thousand times too high for the scorn
of your noble family! I have warned you; for if you had
pledged your troth, and, hearing the truth, had broken
it, by the Heaven above us, I could have murdered
you! I have saved your pride or your honor, Sir Edward
"I have been grossly deceived."
" I have undeceived you now. I was right, was T not?
The obstacle is too strong."
"Leave me to think; you will drive me mad! The
workhouse! a nameless orphan! Danbv, are you telling
me the truth?"
"As I hope for salvation. You can look in the case-
books of the workhouse in King John Street, Soho, and
you will find No. 14. The father at least was a gentle-
man, the mother an Italian, and "
"Step, stop! you torture me. Danby, you are right;
the obstacle is too strong, Dita, even for you!" A look
of agony passed over his face, and he almost broke down;
then added suddenly " All this, of course, is quite
private between ourselves, and she need never know."
Jaques was standing watching him fixedly: "I judged
rightly," he safd between his teeth; "and it would have
broken her heart."
Sir Edward was turning away, when he suddenly came
" You meant well," he said, hoarsely, " and I am not
" I do not care for your gratitude," said Jaques,
roughly, "I have saved Perdita from what she might
have had to bear if the truth had come too late, and proved
"And you love her also?"
" I love her as mortals love the angels, she is the idol
of my life!"
"Take refuge with your dignity;" and Jaques broke
through the trees and was gone.
Mr. Lovel came into his wife's sitting-room. Perdita
sat on a stool by her sofa, her head in her mother's lap,
while Nannie played with her yellow hair; her rosy lips
smiled with the shy joyousness of a child.
"After all, Dita, our visitor has not come in," said he,
in a disturbed voice. " When he came out'of the shrub-
bery he mounted his horse and galloped off like a very
madman, nor looked once behind him."
A little shadow passed over the young girl's brow, a
light seemed to have gone from her life, a vague sense of
a cloud passing between her and the sun. Who does not
know that chill feeling?
"I fancy Jaques must have said something to him
which offended him. I wonder what it could have been!"
continued Andrew, uneasily; "and Jaques is playing
again so strangely."
" I will go to him," said Dita, calmly rising; and
Andrew, anxious to talk to Nannie, did not seek to stop
The violin was sounding strangely wild, passing from
one mad strain to another, fast and loud, with a kind
of wail in its merriment that made it weird and un-
Perdita went out, the colors of earth, trees, and sky
seemed dimmed because of the shadow that had com?
bet \veen her and the sun. She came up to the musi-
cian as he stood playing under the oak and put out
her hand, the notes died faintly away.
" Jaques," she said, drearily " Jaques, he is gone."
"Yes, yes, Miss Dita, and it is better so."
She raised her eyes to his, and did not know how faith-
fully he read the simple story in their dark depths. One
long, deep sigh he gave, then he turned his head aside,
and said, without looking at her
" I told him your real origin his love was not enough,
" I know," she said, softly. He began to play again a
little soft cadence, and while the sweetest sounds swelled
forth, she went gently away. His hand passed roughly
over the instrument, and a string cracked loudly: Jaques
put down his violin and sat down on the ground, there
was a look in his face of intense suffering, but he set to
work patiently to mend the broken string and his broken
THE December that had begun so well grew colder and
T, and snow six inches deep lay on the ground on
Christmas-day. The birds had nothing to eat; Perdita
fed them from her windows, and delighted in their in-
creasing tarn en ess. Mrs. Lovel never left the house, and
in her warm rooms she managed to remain pretty well.
Perdita was no longer lame, but she could not be out quite
as much as she used to be, and the life atSalford was very
still and quiet.
There was an unspoken shadow over them all. Perdita
had thought her secret all her own, and did not know
that the three who loved her best had seen all, and to each
other hud spoken openly. Jaques told Mrs. Lovel what
he had done; he told her that he knew the strong pride of
Edward Norton's family, it was a proverb in the place;
he told her that long ago he had foreseen what would come,
and dreaded the effect of the disclosure of Perdita's true
"It was to save her I did it," faltered Jaques. "He
would have broken it off, or if not he, his family would
have done it for him, and she would have suffered." He
said that an instinct warned him when he saw him riding
along, that the time to speak had come. And Nannie
could not but acknowledge that he had done well and
Perdita was not sad, only she was no longer gay, and
now and then looked very wistful; her love for Edward
Norton was not admitted or acknowledged even to her-
self; so when lie went away, and never came again, she
was conscious of a dull aching in lier heart which she
On Christmas-day she and her father walked down to
the church together. It was a hard frost, and the crisp
snow crackled under foot, and the trees, powdered with
sparkling hoar-frost, looked like frosted silver; above, the
sullen gray sky was heavy with snow yet to come.
When a young heart is gay and joyous, cold brightens
and invigorates; when it is sad, even a little sad, cold
gnaws and chills. Perdita hurried through the snow and
drew her fur cloak tighter round her.
It was a little, simple old church, with a square low
tower of great antiquity. The congregation were mostly
laborers and their families. The clergyman was very old,
and during his life no restoration could be made. Dita
had placed holly wreaths in the windows, and all the best
flowers she could find in the green-houses decked the
church; and all eyes were fixed admiringly on her work.
They came 111 and went straight to the squire's pew,
which faced the pulpit; it was an old-fashioned place, and
Perdita knelt down covering her face with her slender
fingers. Quite in the background came in among the la-
borers an unwonted figure. Sir Edward Norton, looking
very ill and worn, sat down at the fur end of the church,
where he could see the fair outlines of Perdita's face and
her waving golden hair above the old oak ]>e\v. He did
not move when during the service the congregation rose
up and knelt down, hut sat still, leaning forward with his
eyes fixed on her as though he would pwnt her image on
Then came a hymn the glorious Christmas hymn,
which is grand even when sung by school-children in a
village church and in the middle of the sacred strain he
stole away out. Perdita looked half round, bnt she never
ceased singing. A ray of light pierced through the som-
ber sky and lighted up her hair till it seemed to shine like
A dog-cart was waiting outside, a portmanteau within
it, and Edward Norton was driven swiftly away to the
"Dita," said her father gently, as they walked home,
"Do you know who was in church?"
"Sir Edward Norton," she said quietly.
"I thought so."
" It was his good -by. Lady Norton came yesterday.
She has persuaded him to go abroad he has been ill.
He goes to-day."
"Let us walk faster, dady it is very cold." And
they walked quickly on.
Nannie was able to come into the dining-room that day,
and afterward the usual distribution of dinners and gifts
took place. By four o'clock all was over, and Dita nestled
into her favorite little corner by Mrs. Level's sofa with a
book, and Jaques and Andrew went out for a walk.
Suddenly the door-bell rang with a loud, vigorous pull,
and within five minutes a whole tribe of Lee Astons and
Grethards poured into the room all the schoolroom party
headed by Meta. They had come, they said, to carry
off Perdita, by force if necessary; they were to have
charades and tableaux vivants, and every kind of amuse-
ment for a house full of children; and Jack had come
home and persuaded his mother to send them off to bring
the solitary little home-bird into their merry circle.
Perdita's cheek flushed, and there came to her a longing
wish to be one of the children again, merry and happy,
and free from care; there came into her mind the refrain
of that pathetic song,
" Make me a child again, just for to-night."
She was tired of the blank tired of the long day; her
youth resented care, she was so young.
Mrs. Lovel's watchful eye saw and read Dita's face, and
she accepted for her eagerly, and would not listen to her
assertions that she could not leave them alone on Christ-
She was not to return that night; and in less than a
quarter of an hour, Perdita, and a box containing all that
she would want, were packed closely into the little omni-
bus full of children. It was a gay scene into which Dita
came, blinking her large eyes, from the darkness; and she
was quickly divested of her warm wraps, coaxed and pet-
ted, and made much of, and immensely amused by all
the merry games going on among children and elders to-
She had wondered in the carriage how she should meet
Jack; but he came swiftly up, with a warm shake of the
hand, and was here, there, and everywhere, with rather
boisterous fun. All seemed like a dream, the noise and
the warmth and the shouts, as they played earth, air, and
water; and for half a moment she shut her eyes, to try
and realize it all; but she was summarily roused by a
sharp blow from the ball, and a shout of earth, 1, 2, 3, 4,
5, 6, 7.
'Trout, salmon, eagle!" she cried, in an agony of
hurry, and then followed a burst of laughter; she was
fairly roused, and found herself playing with as much
vigor as little Dick, the youngest Grethard, still in knick-
erbockers. Then came a pause, and in marched the butler,
carrying a magnificent dish of snap-dragon, and the lamps
were carried out, and the fun rose to the highest pitch.
One of Lady Aniline's children, little Alice, was rather
frightened, and Dita held her hand to coax her. Then
the salt was thrown on, and the usual effect produced,
Jack and the boys adding to the terrors by the most hor-
At eight o'clock the little children dispersed to bed, and
the elder onts went to dress for dinner, while all the per-
formers in the evening's amusement joined in a school-
Perdita begged to be allowed to join them she was the
merriest among them; once, when the recollection of her
troubles flashed across her, she wondered at herself, and
fancied that they were all untrue, that her troubles could
not b.e real only a mistake.
When the charades were over, dancing began. Dita
was still afraid to venture, but Mrs. Lee Aston made her
sit close beside her, and she enjoyed it almost as much.
"Not one dance?" asked Jack; "will you not dance
even one? What a fatal first ball that was!"
"Dita gave a little shiver; but she answered gayly,
" Not one; my dancing days are over."
"I wonder what my Mabel isdoing!" said Lady Armine,
wistfully; and her thoughts were wandering away to the
first of her nestlings who had taken wing.
Far away in Dunmonaigh, Mabel was standing at her
window alone, and the large tears were rolling down her
cheeks. Christmas-day, when all families meet together,
and the boys are home from school, and life is at its
brightest, she stood alone, looking out on the frozen lake,
where the moon gleamed over the snow, and each black
Scotch fir was shrouded with white. It was very cold, and
her heart was full, longing for the father and mother who
loved her so fondly, for the noisy brothers and the merry
sisters who overflowed her home; all was so dignified, and
all seemed so old, she would fain have been silly and
childishly merry again. Angus was kind, and Lady Grisel
was even too anxious to do all for her she could; but they
were so wise and old, and Mabel felt as if she were flut-
tering in a cage; and as she looked out, she pressed her
forehead against the cold window-pane and sobbed, and
kissed the great packet of letters that had arrived that
riiorning, the loving blessings from her parents, the pages
of schoolroom news from her sisters, and the boyish
"Merry Christmases" from all the boys.
Then she started on hearing her husband's voice, and
carefully wiped her eyes and put the letters away. He
had thought them silly in the morning, and she would
rather he did not speak of them again; so she smoothed
her soft hair, and stole down stairs, for fear that Angus
should come and seek her.
The dancing at the Lee Astons' went on till past mid-
night; then all was over, and Perdita went up to bed.
What a strange long day if, seamed! and then she -started
and gave a little moan, for the pain came back to her
heart with a sudden pang, and she knew that it hud but
slept for a time, and that it lived and was very keen.
Her little simple prayer went up for distant friends, for
Edward and for Mabel, and when she fell asleep her
pillow was wet with tears.
N the spring came Nannie was not well enough to
leave Salford, so the journey to the German baths was
postponed till the autumn, with which arrangement they
were all well pleased.
The fine sunny summer brought back some strength to
the invalid; she was able to be constantly out of doors,
and the quiet and peace made her enjoy it much.
The Armines and Lee Astons, and all the gayer neigh-
bors, were gone to London , but Perdita was almost glad,
as it left her free to devote herself to Mrs. Lovel, whom
she watched with clinging tenderness.
At last, when the middle of July was reached the doctor
would hear of no further delay. A courier was engaged,
and the whole party started on their journey.
Badfeld lay, as do most of such towns, in a valley,
mountains rising hopelessly on every side. The railway
ran through the midst of the valley, which was perhaps a
mile wide, and the low ground was swampy and wet.
The town was built on a lower slope of the hills: a huge
square hotel, with windows enough for a manufactory,
stood in a large jrarden, and there were innumerable steep
little walks through the low fir-woods on the mountain-
The little party arrived very tired after a hot dusty
journey one Thursday evening, and found the courier
(who had preceded them by an earlier train) in despair.
There were no rooms to be had except one small bedroom
on the fifth floor.
They looked at each other in dismay. The hotel-
keeper could give them no hope, though their rooms had
been ordered weeks before: more and more people were
arriving daily, and he was at his wits' end where to put
*=f A large family came yesterday," he said, "and I
know not how long she stays. If she go, these ladies shall
immediately occupy their apartments; if not " and he
shrugged his shoulders.
A carrying-chair was brought, and Mrs. Lovel was car-
ried up stairs to the one room, while Mr. Lovel and the
courier sallied forth on an expedition to all the other
hotels and lodging-houses in the town, to see if any rooms
could be hud.
They returned in triumph; they found that though the
Schweitzerhof (of which every village in German Switzer-
land possesses one) was quite full, it had belonging to it
a ti'ly little chalet, a dependance containing five rooms. It
was now occupied by a German princess with her two
daughters, but they were going to leave on the following
morning, and Andrew had joyfully secured it all.
For this one night Perdita must sleep with her mother
nml the maid, and two beds were rolled in from the pas-
sage; and Andrew could find a room for himself in the
Badhof, a little inn some wav off in the town.
It was a great relief to think that the present state of
things was not to continue, and they were in better
spirits than they had ventured to think possible an hour
Nannie bad her dinner brought up to her room; and
Perdita and her father went down to the table d'hote
It was all new to both of them, and they were much
amused by the crowd of people seated in groups round
little talies eating and talking ceaselessly. The courier
mars-haled them to a table which they were to share
\\uth two ladies and three very magnificent German offi-
cers, who rose at their approach and bowed profoundly.
Suddenly Perdita uttered an exclamation of pleasure.
"Oh father, how delightful! a familiar face."
And there at a round table in a corner of the great room,
Andrew saw Lady Armine with three of her children, and
a lady whom Dita knew to be the governess. They had
just finished their supper and were leaving the room.
Dita would fain have run after them, but did not dare
in that crowd; but she was in high spirits at having al-
ready found companions for their time at Badfeld.
Mildred Grethard was the next sister to Mabel;' she
was eighteen years old, and lately come out; and now that
the eldest daughter was married, she was her mother's
constant companion. The next girl, Mary, was suffering
from a weakness of the spine, and it was for her sake that
they were there.
She and the little boy, Dick, were the only ones still in
the schoolroom, he not being yet old enough to go to
The next morning was spent by the Lovels in moving
and settling in the chalet, which rejoiced in the name of
Bellevue. It was a nice little house, a pretense Swiss cot-
tage, with a large veranda, into which all the long French
windows opened. It was fixed, as it were, into the side
of the mountain, so that there was a sweet smell of fir-
wood round about it. In front, great crimson oleanders
grew in tubs, and were in full flower.
It took Mrs. Lovel's fancy at once; she had never ex-
pected to be so much pleased with anything out of Eng-
land. Whether it was the smallness of it that gave her
the impression that she had realized the real dream of
her life a beautiful little rural cottage or whether it
was only the rest and repose after the crowded and noisy
hotels they had been in, but she seemed to be thoroughly
settled and happy there at once, to Andrew's great joy.
They had brought all sorts of pillows and air-cushions
with them, and Nannie was carried out to a sofa under
the veranda, where she could lie among the oleanders, and
see through the trees all the gayly-dressed people walking
in the garden or listening to the never-ceasing band.
There was a spare room kept in the chalet for Jaques,
in case he shrfhld join them later.
In the afternoon Mr. Lovel and Dita found out the
rooms which Lady Armine inhabited, and went to call on
her. A waiter carried their cards in to No. 95, but before
the answer came, Mildred came running out to beg them
to come in. The girls were quite enchanted to see Per-
Whether Lady Armine was as enclmnted to see Andrew
was not quite so certain, but she nad a great respect
for him, and a most cordial liking for his wife, and she
greeted both father and daughter with warm kindness.
Perdita was pressed to spend as much time as she couM
spare with the girls, and it was insisted on that she should
share their German master, and come and play whenever
she liked upon the piano, which they had secured by a
rare piece of good fortune.
Then Lady Armine put on her bonnet and went across
the garden with Andrew to see Mrs. Lovel, and the three
girls sat down to have a chat together.
" And how are you, Mary?" said Perdita; "how many
baths have you had?"
" Only three, and they are very pleasant. They are
beautiful white baths, and the water is blue, and as clear
" And the woman next door," shouted Dick, who could
never control his voice, *"' sings all the time at the top of
her voice a sort of howl without any air in it; and Mary
says it is exactly like the banshee."
" Not so loud, Dick, please; but it is quite true, it is a
most horrible sound, for it never goes with the band; and
with the constant rush of water into the baths, it has a
most eerie effect."
"Jones told Miss Benton," pursued Dick, "that the
woman's maid's name is Streichhoch, pronounced like a
" My dear iTick!"
"And Streichhoch told Jones that her lady (that's the
Banshee) is always afraid of having a fit in her bath, and
if she stops singing for one moment she is to run in with
a jug of cold water."
" I should have thought that there was water enough
already," said Dita, laughing. " What is this singing
lady like on terra firrnd?"
"She is beautiful," said Dick, gravely.
" She has golden hair, and the pinkest cheeks, and the
blackest eyebrows conceivable," said Mildred, " and she
is Dick's ideal of female beauty."
"Are there any more funny people here?" asked
" There is an Italian lady who sits with her legs
crossed, smoking cigarettes, whom we often watch. And,
by the bye, a friend of yours has been here; she passed
through Badfeld last week, on her way to the Italian
" Who is that?"
" Lady Norton; she has a Miss Gray with her, a niece
whom she is very fond of, and they are going to meet Sir
Edwai'd at Como. They mean to linger there until it is
cool enough for traveling home. He has been climbing
all the worst mountains in Switzerland."
" He is fond of Alpine climbing," said Dita, her heart
" Yes; and Lady Norton says that even the guides are
astonished at his powers."
" Have you seen the eagle?" interrupted Dick.
" No; what eagle?"
"It comes from the mountains," answered Mildred;
"and has been seen several times in the valley."
"Such a fine fellow!" cried Dick; "immense! and Sir
Edward told Lady Norton that he saw him "
"No, Dick, not that eagle an eagle."
" Swoop down and carry off a very fat little marmot in
its mouth its claws, I mean. I believe they feel about
and pick out the fattest."
" Then they certainly will not catch you," said Per-
dita, making a dash at the little blue knickerbockers,
which skillfully wriggled out of reach.
" Jack comes to-morrow," shouted Dick, apropos de
" Mr. Lee Aston, you most impertinent little monkey !"
"Jack I always call him Jack," said Dick. "It will
be great fun when he comes."
"What can he becoming here for?" said Dita, won-
" He is very rheumatic, and has a bone in his back,"
"My dear boy!"
" He told me so himself; he said it was a dreadful
bone a whole yard long," and Dick's face looked quite in
"I do not know why he is coming," said Mildred, her
protty cheeks more pink than usual.
" We saw a great deal of him in London, and when we
came abroad he went to Dnnmonaigh to see Mabel and
Angus, and he promised to come out here and tell us all
about them afterward."
A pleasant idea came into Perdita's mind, and smiling
herself, she caught a corresponding smile on Mary's face.
" I am very glad he is coming," she said, gayly.
" He said the waters would melt the bone if they were
hot enough," said Dick. " I asked him if it would hurt,
and he said awfully."
"Poor fellow!" said Dita, laughing.
" You have heard of his new fortune, have you not?"
"No, but I shall be delighted at any good fortune
coming to any of those dear people."
"His old aunt, Miss Ash burn, has made him her heir,
and now gives him a very good allowance; is it not nice?"
" I am so glad! I always thought that she was a kind
old lady, and very fond of Jack Lee Aston."
" They are all delighted," said Mildred. " For though
he is quite clever enough to make his own way, of course
it would have been slow work."
" Jack will be able to tell us about Mabel's big dog,"
said Dick, finding his friend's prospects a very dull topic
" Has Mabel a big dog?" said Perdita.
" Yes, almost as big as a little pony. Lady Grisel got
it for her because she wanted one; she gets her everything
" That is very nice for her."
"She's not nice now," said Dick, discontentedly; "she
always used to be so jolly, but she's quite spoilt; and
when mamma and Milly and I went there, they kept
telling me to run away just as if I was one of the babies."
"Oh, Dick, Dick, nonsense!" cried Mildred.
" It's not nonsense," cried he, indignantly; "and she
never laughs and plays now as we used "
"Tell me, is not Dunmonaigh quite beautiful?" asked
Perdita, anxious to stop Dick's confidences.
"Yes, lovely! quite beautiful!" said Mary, hastily;
" Mamma and Mildred were there for nearly a fortnight
before they went to London."
"Arid Mabel was quite well and flourishing, I hope?"
DITA. 12 L
"Yes, she was well," said Mildred; and she walked to
the piano to hide that her eyes had filled with tears. She
could still feel the clasp of her sister's arms tight round
her neck, and hear her passionate cry of " Oh, how can
I let yon go, mother! how can I let you leave me!" when
poor Mabel's little attempts at concealment all broke
down, and they saw too plainly that she was not happy.
" Quick, quick, Milly, Miss Lovel!" shouted Dick,
rushing to the window.
" What is it?" asked Perdita, running after him.
" Look! there is the Banshee going to the fountain
Across the gravel-walk swept a magnificently-dressed
lady, in a cloud of white muslin and Mali nee lace, with
masses of golden hair, and the black eyebrows Mildred had
" A most substantial Banshee," said Perdita, laughing,
for the lady was not ethereal.
" I know all about her," said Dick, eagerly. " She is
very grand outside, and dreadfully stingy; she only
"Dick," said Mary, shaking her head, "you know
you ought not to listen to silly gossip."
"Dick, Dick, always Dick!" cried the incorrigible boy;
" well, I won't say a word, but next time I see her, I'll
' Here a penny, there a penny, everywhere a penny.'"
Dick had been with his sister to see "The Happy Land,"
and had adopted its songs; now he was dancing all about
the room singing
" With a little penny here, and a little penny there f
Here a penny, there a penny, everywhere a penny!"
and in the midst of his song, Miss Bentou came in and
carried him off for a walk
Perdita looked at her watch, and finding that time had
passed quicker than she could have believed possible, hur-
ried back to the chalet.
She found Lady Armine still sitting with Mrs. Lovel,
and the former told her that she had been making all
sorts of arrangements for her to spend a great deal of timo
with Mildred and Mary, and that she thought that to-
gether they ought to enjoy Badfeld very much. Lady
Armine made an appointment to call on Mrs. Lovel the
next day about one o'clock, when poor Xannie \vas always
d >\vn and at her best; and then she went away, leaving a
general impression of kindnesa and warmth behind her
that was veiy pleasant.
IN Dunmonaigh Castle was one very quaint and charm*
ing room which had been carefully prepared by Lady
Grisel for Mabel's use. It was square, and had two re-
cesses in round turrets at one end, their narrow windows
looking over the loveliest views of the country round
the south windows over the loch, the western ones toward
beautiful Benichon and its range of purple hills.
The walls were hung with pale-green silk, old oriental
plates upon them, and great oriental china jars were in
the corners, full of pot-pourri, which gave out an old-
fashioned aromatic smell.
Lady Grisel herself was wont always to occupy a high-
backed chair, but she had supplied Mabel's rooms with
luxurious furniture, all covered with the same fine old
silk, of which there had been rolls lying by in the huge
lumber-rooms up stairs.
In this room Lady Grisel and Mabel were alone one
evening Angus had gone to Edinburgh on business, and
would not return that night. Lady Grisel had ordered
one of the old boxes to be brought down from the lum-
ber-room to amuse Mabel; they were full of treasures
forgotten and thrown aside, but well worth a rummage.
They watted till the lights should be brought; and
Mabel sat in the turret with her elbow on the window-
sill, and her eyes on the loch, so still and dark in the
Lady Grisel sat half leaning back in her stiff chair,
with her hands lightly clasped over the bunch of keys in
" Mabel," she said, gently, " shall we ring for the cau-
dles to be lighted r
"Not yet; it is so pleasant in this half light."
" You are too young to love the gloaming, child," said
Lady Grisel, sadly. " When I was your age, I could not
bear that hour always daylight and brilliant lamplight for
" There is a little young moon," said Mabel; "and it
looks so pretty on the deep water."
A sound in her daughter-in-law's yoice made Lady
Grisel rise and approach her.
" Mabel! crying agai-n; my poor child!"
There was a look almost of despair in Lady Grisel's
face, as Mabel rose, and coming to her, sat down on the
ground, and burying her face in her lap, gave way to a
passion of sobs and tears.
"Tell me, darling, tell me what ails you? Oh, Mabel,
why cannot we make you happy?"
" It is very wrong; please forgive me."
"Forgive you, my poor child! it is I that should ask
for forgiveness. Why did you ever come from your happy
home to this house? Has Angus been unkind to you
" It is very silly," said Mabel, trying to brush away her
tears; " but when I wanted to kiss him and say good-by,
he pushed me away and said, ' There, that will do.' He
does not love me; he is so hard. Oh! I ought not to say
- " And you," murmured Lady Grisel, fondly, "you have
been so much coaxed and petted all your life, poor wee
" Do you think he would have married me if he had
not loved me?" said poor Mabel. "Ah! he seems to be
made of stone!"
'My poor child," said his mother, "Angus is not
young like you: he has grown accustomed to a cold, calm
life. I never have caressed him as you young things do
he never could bear caressing even as a child. Do not
expect him to come into your ways at once: be patient,
and try to win him; and oh, do not let your own warm
little heart grow cold !"
"He speaks so bitterly to me," faltered Mabel.
"I know I know it too well."
"Mamma told me to think only of his happiness, and
in doing that, I should forget that I am not happy my
self: and I have tried oh, believe me, I have tried hard;
but I seem to have no power to affect his happiness one
way or another. I cannot make him smile by being gay,
or sad by crying it is cold, calm indifference, and it
wounds me, it hurts me so."
" I believe, Mabel, that in his heart of hearts, he has
warm, strong affections, but, as with all men who are re-
served, they are hidden."
" Why, then, lias he trained his whole life down to a
calm, dead, monotonous level day after day the same
still smile, except when he is angry? Oh, I cannot get
Jock's howls out of my ears since he beat him yesterday!
But, to-day, again, the same incessant activity, as though
he could not sit down for one moment to think, or dream,
or talk to me."
Lady Grisel passed her hand over her brow, Mabel
"I suppose I shall tone down to it; sometimes I feel
already that I begin to fossilize, but not with you."
She hid her face again: Lady Grisel softly stroked her
" My child," she said, "I have been thinking of apian
winch I want you to consider well: perhaps it would break
through Angns's reserve if you were more thrown upon
him if I were to leave you."
Mabel started tip with almost a scream "Oh no, no!
do not leave me; what should I do without you? Prom-
ise, promise you will not leave me I will not let you move
till you promise!"
Lady Grisel was startled by her vehemence so startled,
that she clasped the poor child in her arms, and could
only silence her entreaties by making the required, promise.
" You are foolish, Mabel," she said lovingly.
"Ah! what could I do without you? You have
frightened me so much!" and in truth she looked pale
Lady Grisel made her lie down on the sofa, and rang
for lights, saying, "Now darling, we must have no more
sad talks; give me a kiss, and dry your eyes, and I will
open this big box I fancy there is some old lace in this
Mabel struggled hard for composure, and succeeded by
the time the servants came.
There were old silver sconces on the walls, and the wax
candles in them shed a pretty soft light over the room.
Lady Grisel looked at her daughter-in-law: it was
strange how this gentle dependent girl had brought out
all the unknown depths of tenderness in. her heart. She
who had been all her life reserved and dignified, now
coaxed and petted Mabel, with an instinctive feeling that,
if the warmth of demonstrative love was altogether with-
drawn from her, she would pine away like a flower for
want of sun.
Lady Grisel opened the box. There was a bundle first
of old brocade, a canary-colored suit with a waistcoat em-
broidered in silver; then a gown, the waist some four
inches long; of pink satin, innumerable odds and ends;
then a magnificent brocaded train, in which the late laird's
grandmother had been presented to Prince Charles at
Mabel grew quite excited and interested over all these
Then came a rouge-spot, and an ivory box of mouches,
and then an old jewel-case of faded red morocco, which
Lady Grisel put into Mabel's lap. In the first tray was a
great parure of amethysts, a high comb sparkling with tiny
brilliants which adorned the setting.
" Tkis is beautiful!" exclaimed Mabel. "And so is
this great bracelet of the trois ors. What arms our an-
cestors must have had!" And she slipped the bracelet off
and on her arms.
"I think the lace is underneath," said Lady Grisel;
and raising the tray, Mabel found a parcel of fine old lace.
" I shall be able to make you as pretty as a queen when
you go to Court next year," said Lady Grisel, smiling.
" I have some diamonds you have never seen, and they
shall all be reset for you."
"Oh, might I see them?" asked Mabel, eagerly.
"When you go to bed, you shall come to my room and
see them. Now let us see if there is anything in the bot-
tom of the box."
They found a number of miniatures carefully wrapped in
paper. Lady Grisel took them up with a sigh. "I did
not know that these were here," she said; "I am very
glad k) have found them again."
Mabel poured them into her lap.
" Who is this?" she said, holding out one of them a
badly- painted portrait of a boy of fourteen.
"That is my eldest son, poor E\van," said Lady Grisel,
softly. "His father did not think it good, and put it
" He must have been very handsome. Who is it this
reminds me of so much? I cannot remember."
" He was very handsome: he was six feet two and a half
in height, and he was wonderfully strong."
" Was he like Angus?"
" No, not at all; no one could have told that they were
brothers. Ewan was a thorough Macmonach."
"And he was never married," said Mabel, thoughtfully.
Lady Grisel looked at her inquiringly.
"No," she said, "he was never married."
" Was there not some one whom he wished to marry?' 1
asked Mabel. " 1 asked Angus once, but he was very
" Yes, there was some one."
"Oh, do tell me about her! I seem to know so little
about you all; you do not mind, do you?" she said,
"It is a painful story," said Lady Grisel, "but it is
right that you should know it. On Ewan's deathbed,
this young girl whom he loved (her name was Assunta de*
Caroli) appeared and claimed to be his wife. she had her
little child with her."
Mabel looked at Lady Grisel wonderingly. " And was
she not his wife?" she said.
"No," said Lady Grisel, slowly, "or Dunmonaigh
would not have belonged to Angus. After the funeral
she brought her papers with her, which had been given
to her by my son, purporting to be her marriage-lines
and the baptismal register of the child. They were
opened before witnesses, and proved to be blank papers."
"Oh, poor, poor girl!"
" He must have deceived her by a mock marriage,"
said Lady Grisel, with an effort. "I shall never get over
the pain of that discovery."
" And where is she now?"
"Child, you forget how young yon are; all this was
eighteen years ago, and she died six mouths after Ewan."
" She died of a broken heart?"
" I think so. She refused all help, and at last when
actual want was near, her appeal came too late. Master
Malcolm sought her out, followed her to London, and
found her in a workhouse dead."
" What a piteous story!"
"Put back the miniature, Mabel; telling that story, I
cannot look at it."
" What became of the poor little child?"
" It was adopted by a very good kind couple who had
no children of their own, but who loved poor little Mar-
garet most dearly. She will, please God, have a happier
fate than her mother. They changed their names, and
we have quite lost sight of them for many years, put it
Mabel still held it in her hand. "I see now!" she
What is it?"
'It is quite an extraordinary likeness."
' Perdita Lovel, a friend of mine."
' What a curious name!" said Lady Q-risel.
' Her father is quite a character, and has a mania for
Shakespeare. The likeness is quite odd exactly the
same brow and short upper lip, and that curl of the lips,
half proud, half sweet; but there the likeness ends. Dita
is fairer, and her eyes such a dark brown, that, even in
spite of her fairness, she has been taken for an Italian.
Lady Grisel started. " Indeed!" she said. "And what
are the parents' names? Perdita is such an unusual
"Lovel: they are quite nouveaux riches; but Dita is
not the least like that."
" I wonder," began Lady Grisel, but checked herself.
"Is she a great friend of yours?" she asked.
"Yes; she is so beautiful and charming. They are at
Bad fold now, with mamma and Mildred, and Mary and
Dick," she said, with a sigh.
They put back the miniature in its place, and by the
time they had examined the whole contents of the box it
was eleven o'clock, and time to go up stairs.
They went into Lady Grisel's room that she might ful-
fill her promise of showing Mabel tne diamonds,
"Which is the room in which poor Ewan died?" said
"Never mind, child; if you thought of such things,
every room in every old house would be haunted by the
past. Look here."
She opened the door of the old japanned cabinet, and
drew out the drawers.
"These are fine stones," she said, putting a riviere
into Mabel's hands, " but all these others want resetting;"
and she showed her a number of old-fashioned jewels,
combs, and long earrings, aud diamond flowers trem-
bling on gold wires.
"And you will really have them set for me?" asked
Mabel, with childish pleasure.
"Yes, we will make designs for them ourselves, if you
like. Now go to bed, my child. Good night. God bless
and keep you."
And Mabel went away.
About hc.lf an hour later came a timid little knock at
the door, and Mabel, as white as her white robes, come in.
"Oh, may I sleep with you?" said she, entreatingly; " I
cannot sleep alone I never have slept alone in all my life.
Milly was always there, for I am so silly and frightened:
she was much braver."
"Poor little thing!" said Lady Grisel; "yes, you shall
sleep with me."
" I cannot help fancying mine might be the room where
Ewan died," said Mabel, shivering, " and that his wife
might come in and upbraid him there."
Mabel was soon asleep, but Lady Grisel lay long awake,
thinking sadly. She felt as a gardener might feel who
had some strange exotic intrusted to his care, and no
neansof warming and fostering it. She looked down on
Mabel's sleeping face, with her soft brown hair tossed
round it, and she heard her murmur in her sleep, " Yes,
mamma, Milly and I always do." lu her dreams she was
a child again.
" Poor wee thing, she is only a child now a little soft
young thing," she said to herself; "how could her mother
have sent her away so soon?"
Far away in Badfeld, Lady Armine was thinking the
game thing: that she had been wrong in allowing Mabel
to leave her so soon; and that whatever Lord Armine
might urge about the ten children, the expensive eldest
son, and the excellence of a match, should not induce her
to part with Mildred so soon. But Thomme propose, et
Dieu dispose. Jack Lee Aston had arrived at Badfeld,
and, after all, Mildred was far older and more developed
in mind than her heart's darling Mabel.
JACK LEE ASTON tapped at one of the windows of the
Bellevue chalet, and begged for admittance. Mrs. Lovel
was just making preparations to move, and Jack lent a
strong arm to help to wheel her out into her customary
place in the veranda.
" You have come very early to-day," she said, smiling.
"Dita has not come back from her German lesson at
" I wanted to know whether ) r ou would take tickets for
the grand concert to-night iii the Kurhaus of the
" I had not heard of it; is it to be good?"
"If half a yard of orange-colored programme signifies
anything, it will be grand," he answered. "I wish you
could go yourself," he said, with kind eagerness. " We
can make it quite easy for you we can have your sofa
" You are very kind," she said, smiling, and holding
out her hand; " but now I care for nothing but rest
;;g peacefully down the river of life."
"This place will quite set you up again, I hope," he
said. She gently shook her head.
" Have you come about the concert?" said Andrew,
corning in. "I have sent my courier to take places for
ourselves, so, if you are all going we had better try to sit
together. Ho\v hot it is!" he said, wiping his brow.
.\\vfullyhot. I got a note from Lady Norton this
morning, asking me to go over to Como, but I can't stand
the heat. If it was not so pleasant here. I would be off
home again in no time. Ah! there is Dick, couie with a
message, I have no doubt."
The breathless little boy ran up.
" Mamma wants to know whether Mrs. Lovel and Dita
are going to the concert?" he panted; "and oh, Jack,
there is a snake in the garden such a beauty! and Miss
Benton won't let me touch it, though it is as dead as dead,
and I want to put it in a bottle with wine, to keep it,"
"I will come and look at it, my boy," said Jack. " So
you will not come yourself, Mrs. Lovel? If you only knew
how easy it would be."
"No, no, my dear, thank you all the same for your
kind thought. I lie out here quite late these warm nights,
and you shall all come and tell me about it afterward."
"Mamma said I was to tell you that she is coming to
see you in half an hour," said Dick.
"Very well; now I won't keep you from the snake any
more." she said, smiling.
Jack and the child went off to the spot where a poor
snake had been killed. It was a yard long, bright green
and white, and about the thickness of a good-sized walk-
ing-stick. Jack thought him far too much injured for
preservation; and they walked on to the hotel to see if
the German lesson was not at an end.
" Do you see that little beast?" said Dick, pointing to a
fairy-like little girl about his own age, exquisitely dressed,
with a tight little waist and flowing sash. "'Would you
believe it, she is the most cruel little wretch going. I
have watched her for half an hour together catching one
butterfly after another, crunching them all up in her horrid
little hands; and one day she caught oneof those great
grasshoppers that come bouncing in at night, and she and
her French nurse stuck a pin through it, and there was
she, rushing about with it wriggling on a card; but I will
punish her yet. I got one of mamma's long bonnet-pins
and a newspaper yesterday, and ran after her and told her
I was going to pin her down for a little time, but she
shrieked so frightfully that I was obliged to let her go.
There, she sees me!" Dick threw np his arms and shouted
" Icli komme !" and the child fled with a shrill shriek.
At the sound Lady Armine, who had just appeared at
the door, hurried toward them.
" Dick, you are very naughty. I will not hare' that
child frightened. Fancy!" she said, turning to Jack, "I
had a letter from her mother yesterday, saying that she
entreated me to control 'Monsieur monfils,' for that her
little girl had had an ' attaque de nerfs' yesterday from
something he had said to her. Run in, Dick, and tell
your sisters to make haste."
" Are they going out walking now?"
" Yes; it is very hot, but they are going through the
trees up to that little chalet to sketch; it is sheltered there
even at; mid -day."
"May I go with them?" he said, coaxingly.
She looked at him a moment, and then smiled.
" Ought I lee you go with them?" she said.
" Oh, you have heard from Lord Armine?" he ex-
claimed. "I see you have; he forbid me to speak to you
till he had written to you himself."
" Yes, I have heard from him," she said, witli an irre-
pressible sigh; " so instead of going with the girls, I want
you to come and have a talk with me."
Jack's face beamed with delight.
"How kind you are!" he exclaimed.
"There they are! run and tell them that we will come
and see how they get on with their sketches by-and-by.
Please, Miss Ben too," she continued, "do not let Mary
walk too fast. 1 suppose you have an air-cushion? Yes,
Dick, you may carry it. Good-by."
Then Lady Armine took Jack's arm, and they walked
away into the woods.
Perdita, instead of accompanying the sketching party,
brought her books and some work and sat in the veranda
with Mrs. Lovel. She looked very pale and thoughtful
and slowly drew her needle in and out.
" My little silent mouse," said Mrs. Lovel, gently,
" what are you thinking about?"
"I w;)s thinking of a very odd letter I have had this
morning from Sir Edward Norton. I think it cannot
really be meant for me."
" What an odd thing! let me hear what he says, dear."
"I will read it to you," said Dita, half-laughing as she
unfolded it. *' See, there is the address as clear as it can
be ' Bellevne, Schweitzerhof, Badfeld, Suisse;' there is
no mistake about that and this is the letter." She
" MT DEAR FRIEITD, Most heartily do I congratulate you on
your prospects of wealth and power. I rejoice with all my heart.
She is an old trump. I have still the ' 'ammer, 'ammer, ammer,'
still the ' 'ard 'iuh road ' we spoke of long ;igo; and when that en-
trancing short cut appeared 1 found the leap a real ' bullfinch,' and
my pride too sorry a jade to rise to it. I am better mounted now :
and a truce to metaphor I have made up my mind to try my luck.
My dear old friend, wish me God-speed for ' ily va de ma vie.'
" Yours ever,
"E. D. NORTON."
" My dear, it is perfect Greek to me," said Mrs. Lovel,
laughing. " How very funny! He must have been care-
less, and put it into the wrong envelope; let me look at
it. There must be a letter to you in somebody else's
The color flushed into Dita's face.
"Probably some messsage from Lady Norton," said
Mrs. Lovel, quietly. " She said that she had rheumatism
in her hand last time I saw her, and it may have made it
difficult for her to write."
" Very likely," said Perdita.
At about two o'clock, when it was nearly time for lunch *
eon, the oleanders were pushed aside, and Jack appeared
in the veranda.
" I beg ten thousand pardons, Miss Lovel," he said.
"I have a letter for you in my pocket, it came directed
to me, and I only saw the first, ' My dear Miss Lovel,' to
show me the mistake; and here it is."
"Ah! then this is for you," said Perdita, producing
" Oh, thanks; how stupid of Norton!" and glancing at
it, he said, "I suppose you read it; it is about a
horse," and he blushed as vivid a blush as her own; they
both laughed awkwardly.
" We shall meet at the concert to-night," said Jack; and
raising his hat he disappeared his light step, his shining
blue eyes all showed that his suit was prospering.
Little did Edward Norton imagine the fate of his two
letters as he restlessly rowed about on the beautiful lake
of Oomo. The letter to Perdita had taken him hours to
write and rewrite; that to Jack had been dashed off in
half a moment. He had felt a need of sympathy and
knew he should find it there. In his mother he had
found none. From the moment of his telling her the
true history of Perdita's birth, she and his uncle hail left
no stone unturned to drive her from his thoughts. For a
time they succeeded; but the first shock of the announce-
ment having passed off, his love for the beautiful orphan
returned tenfold. He would throw reason to the winds:
he would only promise to wait for three months for their
Fakes; after that, he would no longer be controlled. The
three months expired, and the letter was written. He
was reading it over for the last time, when his mother
called him; they were waiting for him to go out with
them. The letter to Jack lay open still; he folded both,
put them in, his mother called again, hastily sealed
them, and they went. Lady Norton wisely determined to
make the best of it. She was very fond of Perdita, and
under other circumstances nothing could have delighted
her more; but Mr. Norton went off to England in high
"Eun up stairs and read your letter, my child," said
Mrs. Lovel, tenderly; "luncheon is never punctual:" and
Dita flew away. She did not return till Mr. Lovel had
come in, and luncheon was ready.
In the aftereoon Nannie went out for the short drive she
was still able to take with her husband; and Perdita, in-
stead of joining her young friends, spent the whole after-
noon in her own little room. She was not alone again
with her mother till about six o'clock, when Andrew always
went to the reading-room to look at the papers. Then
Dita nestled up to her sofa and said
; 'I want you to read the letter, mammie, and the an-
fcwer I have written." Siie put both into her hands.
" You have considered well, and asked for God's help,
darling, have you?"
" I think 1 'have done right," she answered, with u littl
Mrs. Lovel opened the letter and read it:
" MY DEAR Miss LOVEL, I hardly venture to address you with-
out beginning by saying that, unless circumstances had prevented
me, 1 should have written this letter long ago. You must have seen
during that most precious time in which we were so much together,
that my feelings towaid you had grown far beyond the bounds of
warmest friendship; now, though months have passed since I have
seeu you, I am more than ever convinced that the happiness of my
134 BIT A.
life lies in your hands, and entirely depends upon your acceptance
or rejection of my suit. Will you be rny wife, and make me the
happiest individual on God's earth? Yours most truly,
"E. D. NORTON.
" My address will be, ' post restante, Cadenabbia.' "
" Before you read my answer, mammie," said Perdita,
laying her hand on her own letter, " listen to me. You
know that the circumstances to which he alludes are not
circumstances at all, but feelings. T have interpreted his
letter to Mr. Lee Aston very clearly, and I know his
character so well," she said, the tears rising to her eyes.
"He is so proud that he will find it difficult to realize
that I can be as proud as he is."
"Child, child! have you refused him?"
" Yes, mammie;" and Dita hid her face.
" Darling, do you know what you are doing? Dita, do
you love him?"
" Yes, yes, I do love him, mammie, and he loves me
loves me so much that he would make what he deems a
very great sacrifice for me; but I will never* marry him
never, never!" she eried, with increasing vehemence.
" No bar-sinister shall ever disgrace his shield."
" My dear, what do you mean?"
"Never mind, mammie," she said, smiling drearily.
"It is better so; I could not leave you, and you cannot
wisli to send me away. Eead my letter, mammie."
Mrs. Level took it up, sorely troubled.
" MY DEAR SIR EDWARD, Forgive me, please forgive me the
pain I must give you. I cannot be your wife. Try to think of it
no more. I feel most deeply that you love me so much that you
would sacrifice yourself for me. I do not accept the sacrifice. I
will pray for you that you may forget, PEHDITA."
Mrs. Lovel lay back and shut her eyes; one of her over-
whelming attacks of palpitation had come on. Perdita,
pale and dry-eyed, attended to her, administering the
usual remedies. When she had somewhat recovered she
bade Dita sit by her again.
"Darling, you have made up your mind?" she said,
" Yes, quite, quite, mammie," said Perdita, wistfully.
' I have never asked yon before what was my mother's
name? and where did you see her first?"
"I found her, darling, in the workhouse!"
A sharp shiver passed through the girl's frame.
"She had become so very poor, and you were so young,
she thought it better to go there. Her name was Assunta
de' Caroli; she told me that she was the daughter of an
Italian, but she spoke English like an Englishwoman;"
she stopped breathless.
"Assunta de' Caroli," repeated Perdita, still with her
face hidden; "and was she like a lady?"
" Yes, dearie a true, well-born lady. She had large
brown eyes that shone so wistfully in her white wan face;
she was very thin, poor little thing, but I could see she
must have been quite beautiful."
" And," said Dita, hesitatingly, "did she speak of my
father? Oh, mammie, do you know his name?"
" Darling, must you know? His name was Ewau
'' Macmonach! Mammie, mammie!"
" Yes, dearest; Angus Macmonach's elder brother."
" Oh, does any one know?" she said, shivering.
" No, darling, your father took care that no one should
ever know; perhaps that has been a mistake," she said
softly to herself. Perdita was sobbing now, and clinging
closely to her.
" She gave you to me for my very own," said Nannie,
tearfully " to be all my own; and she smiled and thanked
God when she saw you in iny arms. And you have been
happy, darling, have you not?"
" Mother! my life has been one long joy."
" God bless you, child, for saying that; I will tell As-
THE little party of English made their way to the room
in which the concert was to be held, about half-past eight.
They had to cross part of the garden, for the large room
of the Kurhaus was the place chosen for the evening's
Lady Armine took Dita's arm, and began asking her
kindly about Nannie, whom she had thought to be look-
ing rather frail during the last two days.
Jack and Mildred walked together, and the schoolroom
The room was half full; the courier had secured two
rows of seats, rather in the background, where the music
would be best heard.
There were several children present, and in one of the
foremost chairs sat Dick's little foe, Mademoiselle Her-
Dick saw her at once, but his attention was taken up by
a fat little King Charles, that lay by its mistress, panting
"It is a civil little dog, Milly," he said, in a loud
whisper, "but it does not speak English; Tcomm liter," he
added, insinuatingly; but as it only curled up its face,
and showed its gleaming white teeth, he desisted.
"It wants to listen to the music. Oh! look, Mary!"
he cried; "there is the Banshee in a low gown, with bare
arms; is she going to sing?"
There was a general hush of expectation, for the Ban-
shee was a famous pianoforte-player, a professional from
the concert-rooms of Vienna.
Her long sonata bored Dick almost beyond endurance.
It was a little better when a long-haired young German
tenor sang a plaintive clianson d'amour, it ended grace-
fully on the minor D, when to every one's horror Made-
moiselle Hcrmine's voice was raised in a piercing shriek
on the E flat, and the discord made every well-tuned
German oar vibrate with agony.
The child was carried off by her parents, one on each
side, kissing and addressing her as "Ma cherie, mon
ange;" "ma is qu'as tu ?"
Jack bent down to Dick and said severely, " What did
"I only just held up this," answered Dick, looking un-
naturally innocent; and he showed his mother's long
bonnet-pin concealed in his hands. It was of course con-
fiscated; and a pale German girl, a beginner from the
Vienna Conservatoire, sang Brahm's lovely " Wiegenlied "
quite charmingly, and was very much applauded.
Dita all the time sat listening as if she was in a dream.
The music seemed to soothe and lull the sort of aching
feeling the constant excitement of the day had pi'oduced.
A few whispered words from Lady Armine had told her
that Mildred's fate was now in her own hands that per-
mission had been given to Jack to try and win her.
The thought came flashing across her, did they know
that, if she had so willed it, she might have been Jack's
wife now? and she was half amused. Would it have been
a happy fare? Her heart answered " no/' as distinctly as
if she could see Edward Norton's dark earnest eyes actual-
ly present, and the constantly varying expression she knew
so well. When she thought of the morning's letter, she
felt she had gained much; she might love him now, she
might tell herself that no one would ever be to her what he
had been; she might treasure the knowledge now, locked
up and kept as a possession for life. It seemed a little
strange to her to see how quickly Jack had been cured;
but she felt that Mildred might be well content, for he
was strong and good and brave, and possessed a manly
humility and resignation to the inevitable. Yes, Mildred
would be very happy.
Mendelssohn's duet from the " Lieder ohne Worte "
began that lovely speaking and answering of two sad airs
of which so many interpretations have been made. It
was beautifully played by the Banshee, so beautifully
that the audience encored it, and broke the spell.
"Oh, is it to be all over again?" said Dick, piteou?ly.
Jack charitably supplied him with a piece of string. 'Die
last chords were still sounding, when there was a little
commotion in the crowd gathered round the door, and
Perdita saw the face of Mrs. Level's maid looking anxious-
ly in, very pale and disturbed. She jumped up and touched
" Daddy, there is Summers; she looks as if she wanted
us. I am afraid that mother is not so well!"
"Shall I come with you, dear?" said Lady Armine.
"Oh, no, thanks; it is very likely nothing worse than
usual. Please come when the concert is over;" and they
went hastily away.
" What is it, Summers?" asked Perdita, as they reach-
ed the Bellevue; for the maid had run on without wait-
ing, and met them at the door of Mrs. Level's room.
" Mrs. Lovel is in a very bad faint, miss," she answer-
ed. "I sent and asked Dr. Schafhans to come in, and
ran to fetch you."
They went in. Nannie was in a death-like fainting fit,
and nothing seemed to revive her.
The doctor shook his head gravely when Perdita looked
at him. "It is the beginning of the end," he said to her
in German, which Andrew did not understand. Perdita
felt as if her heait would break, but she was quite calm,
and set herself to do what the doctor told her.
After about an hour Nannie opened her eyes with a long
soft sigh. She was silent, and her eyes wandered from
one to another with a wondering, scarcely a conscious ex-
" Her strength is at its lowest ebb," whispered the doc-
tor. "You must try to get it up by every means."
About half-past ten Lady Armine arrived, and offered
to stay all night, which they thankfully accepted. The
doctor desired that Summers should go to bed, that there
might be one quite fresh in the morning. Andrew seemed
thoroughly stunned; he said nothing, but sat holding
Nannie's hand in his, and looking at her without moving,
and they let him stay.
Every now and then the deadly faintness came back,
terrifying the watchers. Perdita felt as if she should not
have known how to bear it without Lady Armine's calm
experience and active help, who told her what to do, and
-who was full of resource. When morning dawned they
trusted that the worst was over, for Nannie slept.
Lady Armine and Perdita urged Andrew to follow their
example and go to bed for a few hours, leaving Summers
and the doctor both with the patient; and he allowed him-
self to be persuaded.
Perdita did not wake till two o'clock, and she found
Lady Armine already back in the Bellevue. Her ladyship
would not let her return until she had eaten something,
and made Mildred see that she did so.
Nannie's condition appeared to have changed: there
was a pink flush on her cheeks, and a light in her blue
eyes, and she seemed to be wandering. It was piteous to
see how Andrew seemed in that one night to have become
quite an old man, looking helplessly from Perdita to
Lady Armine for comfort and encouragement. The doe^-o' 1
said that nothing more could be done but to watch foi
every change. Her pulse was fast and intermittent, and
she was not conscious.
They sat by her all the day, forestalling with strong
restoratives the tendency to fainting. In the evening
they were startled by hearing her say, almost in her nat-
ural voice, " Andy, are you there?"
"Yes, wife, I am holding your hand."
" I have asked mother, honey, and she says we may
walk together after church, and take the children after
the blackberries: there are so many this year by Good-
man's stile. Daisy does nothing but low all day, and I
cannot make her happy; she had better go back to the
" She is wandering," said Lady Armine, softly.
"She is living again in the past," said Andrew dream-
ily. "Nannie, wife, Daisy died long ago."
"I remember," she said "I was making a cowslip
ball, for the wine was finished, and mother gave me the
rest of the flowers, 1 remember Daisy would not touch
her food, and I gave her the cowslip ball, and she ate
that," and she laughed faintly.
" Those were bright days, Nannie," murmured Andrew.
"It is very pretty, Andy," she went on, her eyes wan-
dering around. "And it is like you to have filled that
jug with wallflowers. I shall get used to town after a bit.
Let me put out mother's loaf, nothing so pure as home-
make bread in London.
" You were happy, wife?"
" Oh yes, I'll be happy after a bit, but it comes strange
when you've been used to the country; and you'll put up
with me if I am dazed-like at first?"
" I was not patient enough, Nannie."
" Never say that, honey. I am not clever I oan't
always understand what you say; but you are rarely good
to me, and I would not have cried over a hasty word if I
had not been so muddled to-day. I am a silly and igno-
rant body for you to love, Andy."
"No, dear, dear, wife."
Still her fancy went wandering on sometimes she was
walking in the lanes with her clever young London lover,
sometimes fretting over the blacks that would sully the
white curtains she prized. And so for three days it went
on, Andrew always sitting by her, and answering as
though he shared and followed her thoughts in a very
strange way. One day was very sad: she thought she
held her little child in her arms, and rocked it, and spoke
to it as though it lived, and t-hen held it dead to her
breast, and fought that they might not take it away; but
after that it was always the same soft babbling of green
fields and rural games, and work she repeated simple
village hymns one after another.
And there was nothing to be done; nature had broken
down there was only the waiting till the feeble light
should flicker out.
Mildred came one morning to the door of the chalet and
knocked very softly. Perdita came out, looking very
worn and pale.
" I have called to say that mamma is coming, and she
wishes you to come out for a little while with me, Dita,"
she said, kissing her affectionately.
" I will come; mother is very quiet now, and Summers
is with her. Thank you, dear Milly, it will do me good."
She went for her hat, and they walked together up
into the wood, and sat down on a bench. It was very
hot, but a gentle breeze pluyed among the trees, and
brought a sweet scent of syringa on the air.
A memory of what seemed long ago flushed across Dita,
and she looked round at her companion. Mildred's grave
sweet face was full of thought.
" Dear Mildred," said Dita, softly, " is all settled now?"
"I did not like to disturb you with my happiness,"
she answered, kissing her.
" I am so glad, so very glad." said Perdita. " You will
be very happy, Milly; and I "
The words escaped involuntarily, but Mildred did not
The two girls wandered on; the wood was alive with
insect-life; the birds sang, the grass-hoppers kept up their
merry chirp. They stood for a moment over a tiny pond,
half choked with its growth of tangled water-lilies: the
frogs croaked hoarsely; and great dragon-flies whirred
past, their steel-like bodies gleaming in the sun.
Then Perdita turned from this world of light and love,
and went back to the monotonous pain of watching that
life, so dearly loved, wane slow'
Night came, and Nannie's voice ceased, and she be-
came very still.
Lady Armine, very tired, had gone home to rest, leav-
ing Perdita and Andrew that night-watch. For the last
two nights Andrew had refused to leave his wife.
Eleven o'clock struck twelve and she still seemed to
sleep. The lamp was burning very low, and Dita went
softly to trim it.
There was a slight movement; Nannie's white hand,
groping outside the sheets till it met Andrew's, and there
rested. Presently she spoke, and her faint whisper sounded
clearly "Andy, some one told me that there were crim-
son oleanders on the shores of the lake of Gennesaret,
where the Saviour is waiting to heal the sick. The son
is setting, and he bids me go to Him walking on the
water; it is so blue, and it seems as if 1 must sink; but
He is calling me, and I must go."
"Nannie wife!" cried Andrew, " wait for me! a little
" I cannot wait," she said, slowly; " I see Him on the
shore, and voices are bidding me come. Good-by, koney
Perdita and Andrew bent over her in terror. She mur-
mured something about the beautiful crimson flowers
then suddenly a light came into her eyes, as of a flash of
returning consciousness. Her voice was very feeble now.
"Andrew, sweetheart, I am going fast."
" Nannie, darling Nannie, have pity! do not go."
'' Kiss me, Dita, darling! Go leave me with him
Solemnly Perdita bent down, and gave a long still kiss,
then she stole away.
"Open the window, Andy," gasped the dying woman.
" Give me light and air!"
He rose to his feet, and drew up the wooden blinds; a
pale light, half from the moor., half from the first tinge
of daylight, stole into the room,
" Andy," she said, her words coming slowly, <( it is hard
"I cannot let you go," he moaned.
"Nothing but death could part us two, Andy." She
put her feeble hand on his bowed neck, "hold me in
your arms there, closely, closer still; raise me. We are
together still. Look out there, when all is over, you will
see the sun rise up again, and the world go on as if I was
with you with you still."
''And I, Nannie! I?"
" Come soon."
The pale light flooded into the room, the night-lamp
flickered up and went out suddenly, and there was perfect
Perdita had awakened Summers, and they had sent for
the doctor, for her heart told her that the end was near;
and when they heard no sound, they waited a while, and
then went in.
All was dim, and the doctor hastily stepped back and
brought a light; Nannie was lying with her sweet face
looking toward the window, and Andrew with his arms
still round her, as he had laid her down, and his head was
buried on the pillow.
He rose up when they spoke to him, with a smile on
his face, and let Perdita take his hand.
" She has gone before," he said, "but only for a little
while." And she led him away.
THEY were dreary, miserable days that followed. Lady
Arrnine was very anxious to get back to England, for her
husband kept writing to press for her return, and Mary's
term of eighteen baths was accomplished; but she would
not leave Perdita till all the arrangements were over, and
news had come that the sad, unattended funeral had taken
place at Sal ford.
Mr. Lovel was in no condition to travel quickly, and
Dr. Schafhaus strongly urged that he should not be dis-
turbed in. any way until he had somewhat recovered from
the stupor into which he seemed to have sunk. It was
Jack who made every arrangement, *-to whom Perdita
appealed for help as she would have clone to a brother.
Jaques was traveling in Spain, and it seemed probable
that the letters were following him from place to place.
Lady Armine was consoled in leaving Perdita by her
DITA. . 143
assurance that he would come to Badfeld the very moment
he heard of what had happened.
Dita drove down to the station to see them off, and on
the way she could hardly suppress her tears. They had
nearly half an hour to wait in the new, highly-varnished
mile cV attente, and she felb as if every moment were a
reprieve. Lady Armine made her promise to write often,
and to let them know her plans, and how poor Andrew
went on; and the three girls kissed and embraced each
The little tinkling bell began at last, and the large
German train rolled into the station.
"I have never thanked you, I have not known how to
thank you," said Perdita, as Lady Armine pressed her in
"God bless you, my dear child. Good-by."
They were hurried off to take their places, and she
could no longer see Jack waving his hat out of the window.
Then she went sadly back to the chalet.
Andrew was always sitting in the veranda among the
oleanders. Perdita used to light his little carved pipe
and give it to him, but it always went out and he laid it
down. She was frightened at his apathy, and longed
eagerly for Jaques to come.
Then about the end of August the weather changed.
One night Perdita was awakened by the roar of the wind
which came rushing through the valley: it was so Avild and
loud that she rose up and stole into Andrew's room to seo
if he also was awake. No, he was sleeping heavily with-
out movement; and she went back to her room and with
some difficulty succeeded in closing the shutters firmly.
The next morning the valley was full of clouds which
lay in white solid masses along the sides of the hills, and
the trees were bending almost double in the storm. All
the gay ly- dressed people disappeared from garden and
balconies, the band sounded faintly from within the Kur-
hans, and the shattered flowers of the oleanders strewed
Andrew was driven indoors, and sat bending over his
desk, vainly trying to write letters.
For two days the wind blew and the valley was thick
with clouds, then it went down suddenly, and a thick
pelting rain began to fall incessantly. They were chilled
with the damp; and Budfeld was so completely a snmmef
place, that there were no means of warming the rooms.
Ac last Andrew, to Dita's great delight, said that he
wished to go home. The very fact of his expressing a
wish was something gained. Jaques had not been heard
of, but Dita knew that he often traveled without leaving
his address, and though distressed she was not surprised.
She made every arrangement; and on one day, still more
wet and dreary than usual, they bade adieu to Badfeld,
and started on their long journey to Bale.
Dita felt her spirits rise as they emerged from the valley
into the open country, gradually, as they left the mountains
behind them, getting into finer weather. They did nob
reach Bale till night, and Andrew was so tired and worn
out that Dita was afraid to push on their journey as she
had intended, and devised with the courier a route by
which they would best shorten the travel i.ig for each day.
The first day to Troyes, the second to Sens, the third to
They reached Troyes late on Saturday night, and An-
drew went at once to bed. Dita hoped that by resting
there on Sunday he would be able to go ou Monday, but
she was disappointed. The next morning he was unable
to rise from his bed, and suffered from violent pains in
the head and limbs. The hotel was but an old-fashioned
inn, the up-stairs rooms opening into an open-air gallery
on wooden pillars which ran all round the little square
court-yard. The rooms were quiet and clean, but very few
travelers seemed to pass through Troyes: and Dita felt it
would be terribly lonely if Andrew's indisposition increas-
ed to a severe illness.
She sent for the doctor, who had nothing to recommend
but a soothing ptisa ne and patience. And she could only
sit by Andrew, bathing his brow, and soothing him, and
feeling very helpless and disconsolate.
On the Saturday afternoon, two days after the Levels had
left Badfeld, Sir Edward Norton arrived there with Lady
Norton and Miss Grey. They had Ivard from Jack Lee
Aston of poor Nannie's death, and Lady Norton had com
to Badfeld full of kind intentions toward Perdita; and
they were all disappointed to find that they had gone. Dr.
Schafhaus told them that he thought they would go very
slowly home, for that Mr. Lovel was in a very low, weak
state. And in hope of overtaking them, they pursued
their journey to Bale.
Sir Edward found out privately from the hotel manager
that theLovels had gone on to Troves; and as his mother
and cousin wished to see the sights of Bale he professed an
extreme desire to visit the old churches at Troves and
went off by himself, and promising to rejoin them at Paris
or at Pontainebleaiij which they had also wished to in-
clude in their tour.
He traveled all Monday afternoon, and arrived at the
hotel, walking from the station with a porter to carry his
portmanteau. It was a beautiful moonlight night, and as
lie came into the little court-yard, he found all the serv-
ants of the inn sitting round a table eating a savory potage
He began by asking for a room, and was taken into the
open galfery up stairs by the fussy landlady, who never
ceased talking. She showed him a large room with a
slippery waxed floor, where he deposited his luggage.
" Yes, there were some English here," the landlady in-
formed him; "an old gentleman who was ill, and his
daughter. They had arrived on the Saturday, and were
to have proceeded on Monday, but he was not well enough
Sir Edward sent away his hostess. It was too late to
disturb the Lovels that night, being nearly ten o'clock; so
he lit a cigar and sat out on the gallery looking down into
the court. The servants had finished their supper and
withdrawn; the moon shone down from a clear purple sky,
tin-owing the old wooden staircase and balconies into strong
and picturesque relief. In the court below a white cat
glided across, her velvet paws making not the slightest
sound; far away in the street, a workman going home
sang a gay little song to his lady-love. Sir Edward leant
his head on his hand, and felt the profound silence as an
Presently one of the doors opened, and lie saw some one
come out and advance slowly toward him. An instinct
told him who it was before he even saw the slender figure,
the fair head drooping with sad dejection.
He rose to his feet and to?sed away his cigar. Dita
started when she saw him and would have passed on, but
he moved a step forward.
"It is I, Miss Lovel; do you not know me-?*'
She drew back a step, putting her hand to her brow, and
then held it out to him tremblingly.
"You, you here!" The impulse was almost irresist-
ible to rush forward to try to comfort her, to pour out his
story of love, but he controlled himself with an effort.
"I wish, I do so wish to be of service to you, if only
you will let me. I have come to "
Dita withdrew her hand.
"No, no, Miss Lovel; dear Dita, do not be afraid I
will say nothing about that, I will forget it; think of
nothing to distress you. 1 promise, you must let me
help you as I would a sister. Oh Dita!"
For she leant one hand on the balustrade, and covering
her face with the other, could not restrain her tears. With
a rigid resolve to be fraternal paternal even he made
her sit down on his chair, and half sitting on the balus-
trade himself, waited until she had dried her eyes.
" It is such a relief to see you," she said-
"Ah, you have no one with you! poor Dita!"
The courier left us this morning," said Dita, raising
her eyes and trying to smile. "He would have Missed
an engagement he had made for a very long journey if I
had kept him any longer, and of course I could not de-
tain him against his will."
"The brute! He was bound to stay. I will see that
he does not escape for such a breach of engagement.
Have you no one else?"
" Only our maid Summers: she is a great comfort, but
she cannot speak a word of French. I cannot tell you
tho relief of seeing some one whom I know."
"And where is Caliban? What does he live for, but to
be of use to you?"
" His letters have not reached him I suppose, for I
have not heard a word from him. I wished he had come
abroad with us."
" Tell me about your father, is he really very ill?"
" I don't understand his condition. Oh, if I only had
Dr. Grant here for five minutes! The doctor here says
that he must on no account move at least for three
" I will see about that to-morrow."
" Oh, thank you tbank you for coming!"
"I would do anything," he began, but abruptly left
" Good night," said Dita, rising. " It is very late, and
I was going to bed."
"So soon! could you not wait a little longer?"
"I was up all last night," said Dita wearily, "and I
would talk to you if I could, but I cannot hold up my
"Poor little Dita," he said, in a tone of inexpressible
tenderness. "Then go to bed. Tell me, ought any one
to sit up with your father to-night?"
"Summers is there," she said, dreamily. He put her
candle into her hand, and saw her go down the gallery to
the door of her own room. Then he lit another cigar, and
walked out into the moonlit town.
Dita was so worn out, that she was asleep before her
head touched the pillow.
The next morning she was only roused by her maid,
who came in with a cup of coffee; she brought a message
from Sir Edward, begging her not to get up, and saying
that he had given Mr. Lovel his breakfast, and would see
the doctor and receive his orders. Dita turned her head,
and witli a delicious feeling of security, was asleep again
before her maid had left the room.
About two o'clock she came down with a guilty feeling
that she had been neglecting her duty, and hurried to
Mr. Level's room. He was out of bed and sitting propped
up by pillows in a large armchair, Edward Xorton beside
him, reading aloud an English newspaper.
There was a more lifelike and less painful expression
on the old man's face than it had worn since the death of
his wife, and he looked up and actually smiled as Dita
"You have had a long rest, my love," he said, "and
you look the better for it."
Edward, looking at Dita, thought she must have looked
ill indeed if this was better; his heart ached to see how
pale and thin she was, and how large her dark eyes had
gro\vn during those few weeks.
" I know something of doctoring, Miss Lovel," said he
"gained during the time that I have been knocking
about in the world, and I hope you will approve of my
change of treatment. I gave your father a beefsteak for
Dita looked horrified.
"1 think it lias done me good, dear," said Andrew,
feebly; " I was so tired of beef- tea."
"And this afternoon we will get him out a little way,"
said Sir Edward, cheerily; "I have got a very decent
voiinre dc rcmixc, and the air is delicious to-day."
Dita could see that Andrew was better for the change
of treatment, and she resolved to trust Edward implicitly.
Luncheon came for Andrew; delicate soup made with
Summer's best skill; but Sir Edward insisted upon taking
him up a wing of chicken from their dinner down stairs,
and sending away the omelet.
He helped him tenderly into the carriage, and propped
him up with cushions, bidding the coachman drive very
They went to the old cathedral, and Dita and Sir Ed-
ward got out to see it, leaving Andrew lying back quietly
in the carriage enjoying the sweet fresh air.
In the evening the doctor called, and was quite aston-
ished at the improvement of pulse and general appearance
in his patient. Sir Edward insisted on a private interview,
and ascertained that what he suspected was true that
Andrew was suffering from complete nervous prostration,
misunderstood by Dr. Sbafhaus, who had allowed his
strength to run down very low, by keeping him on an in-
It seemed very hard to take away this English milord,
this layer of golden eggs, from the little old doctor; but
he acknowledged, when pressed, that there was no real
need to delay going homeward by short stages. Dita
could scarcely believe the good tidings.
Next day came a letter from Lady Norton, from Eon-
tainebleau; she had gone there with Miss Grey, and wrote
a most alluring account of the delightful rooms they had
engaged on the ground-floor, opening on to a pretty gar-
den. They had had one drive in the forest, which was
enchanting. " If yon have found Mr. Lovel and Dita,"
wrote Lady Norton, "do persuade them to come here and
stay with us for a week or two. I will take great care of
Mr. Lovel, and we will try amongst us to make them
Edward read this part of bis letter to Dita. She was
very much tempted by the idea. Andrew had a great
dread of returning borne, and she longed for him Fo be
stronger before be should have to pass through that ordeal,
lie also caught at the idea; so they moved to Sens, and
from thence an hour's journey took them to Fontaine-
Lndy Norton had engaged rooms as pleasant as her own
for their reception, and she was there waiting, with an
English tea spread out; and she welcomed Dita with a
warm, motherly kiss, and petted her, and looked after
her with the greatest care.
After they had been settled there for about three days,
Edward Norton came into their sitting-room.
" I have come to say good-by, Miss Lovel."
"Good -by," she faltered.
"Yes, I am off to London; I did not tell you before. I
am going to my chambers. I have my fortune to make."
He tried to speak lightly.
Their hands met in one short grasp. Dita could not
speak, but she raised her eyes and saw that his were look-
ing down on her full of tears.
He was gone, and Dita sat down, feeling as if she were
alone in the whole wide world.
" ANGUS is going up to the moors, to-day," said Mabel
Maemonach, coming into the turret-room where Lady
Grisel was sitting.
" Is he? Has lie asked any one to go with him?"
" He has asked Craigenlowe to join him with his new
dogs, the keepers have seen a great stag at the foot of
" Then we must amuse ourselves, Mabel. Shall we go
up to see some poor people this morning, or make one of
the men row us about on the lake?"
"I am tired," said Mabel, plaintively; "and I want to
Avrite a long letter to Mildred; would you mind not going
out till this afternoon?"
"I will go myself up to the farm," answered Lady
Grisel, " for I hear that one of the twins is ill; but I shall
not be long away, and you will be able to get through
your letter without interruption."
"I have had such a happy letter from Milly," said
Mabel, smiling; " she thinks no one in the world like her
" You like him very much, do you not?"
" He was a very nice, merry creature," said Mabel.
"Not clever. I don't think him worthy of Mildred; bub
then no one can be worthy of her/'' she added, with all
the partiality of a sister.
" I think all you tell me sounds very nice and happy."
said Lady Grisel. "Does she tell you any plans yet, and
where they are to live?"
" Yes; she tells me all about it," answered Mabel, be-
ginning to arrange her writing materials. " They are to
have a little house in London, somewhere in the South
Kensington region, that is to be their home; but they
are to be a great deal with Miss Ash burn, who, although
she is so deaf, is a very dear old lady, and is quite de-
lighted, Milly says, that Jack is going to be married."
" Where does she live?"
"About twelve miles from the Lee Astons. Mamma
and Milly are going there for her to make acquaintance
with Miss Ashburn. Thev will be neighbors to Salford
" Who lives at Salford Abbey?" said Lady Grisel, smil-
" The Lovels, pretty Perdita Lovel whom I have told
" Ah, poor girl! I wonder how she is getting on since
your mother left her! It must have been a wonderful
comfort to her having Lady Armine there."
"Yes, indeed," said Mabel. "I must think of my
wedding present for Mildred," she began. "I cannot
make up my mind whether it shall be something very
lovely for her house or an ornament. I suppose the house
will be of most consequence, as she will be poor at first."
"Yes; but they will not always be poor, and an orna-
ment lasts for ever."
"I am glad you think so," said Mabel, joyfully; " it is
a much more interesting present."
Angus came in equipped for deer-stalking.
" Yon will be sure to send tny letters to the post,
Mabel," he said, in his measured tones.
" Yes, Angus, I shall not forget."
"Craigenlowe will sleep here to-night, in all probabil-
ity, so be prepared. Good-by."
Lady Grisel and Mabel went out to the door to see them
start. Mabel had a childish personal affection for all sorts
of animals. She sat down on the steps while Angus was
speaking to one of the keepers, and the dogs all came
pressing round her, licking her bauds and fawning on her,
straining against their coupling.
" How can you let them lick you?" said Angus; but
Mabel scarcely heard, for she had pushed away the dogs
and was petting and caressing the thick-maned ponies.
"Where does Craigenlowe meet you?" asked Lady
Grisel, shading her eyes from the sun, and looking away
over the hills toward beautiful Benichon.
"At the burn. Now then." They whistled off the
dogs and started. One of Mabel's favorites lingered be-
hind, pressing up to her; Angus's whistle summoned him,
and as he obeyed the call he was greeted by a sharp lash
for loitering. She could not suppress a bitter little sigh as
she turned into the house.
" Good-by, my child," said Lady Grisel, looking in with
her out-of-door apparel on. Mabel was sitting at her
desk, already intent upon her letter. "I shall not be
very long. Good-by."
Mabel put down her pen and came up to Lady Grisel
to be kissed.
"Give my love to Mildred," she said. "And, Mabel,
you shall, if you like, search through all my old jewels to
find something lovely for me to give to her."
"Thank you, you dearest and best of mothers," cried
Mabel. She had never called her that before, and Lady
Grisel went away with her heart full of loving tenderness
Mabel wrote on. The second full sheet was finished,
and she had just begun a third, when a servant brought
in a little screwcd-up piece of paper.
" From Dunmonnigh, if you please, ma'am," he said
Willie was not to wait for an answer,"
Mabel opened it, and a key fell out; she read these
lines written inside an old envelope
"I forgot that I had left a most important letter in my desk,
directed to A. Smith, Esq., etc.; it is necessary that it should be
sent off to day. Please open my desk and you will find it ready
sealed and stamped in the right-hand middle drawer: I send you
The post did not go till one o'clock, so Mabel, in no
hurry, finished and fastened up her letter, and she took
up the key and went with it to Angus's room.
Her husband's sitting-room was very little known to the
young wife. Very early in their married life, she had
found out that she was not welcome there. AYhenever she
went in, he ceased any occupation on which he might be
employed, and contrived to make her feel as if she wa. a
visitor and an interruption to him; and as he did almost
all his morning work there, she saw very little of him,
and was too timid to attempt more.
It was a large, comfortable room, well filled with books,
and with useful maps and papers. The bureau, which
Angus always kept carefully locked, stood close to the
fireplace; for he was of a very chilly nature, and often
had fires burning when other people could not have borne
them. The room had a northern aspect, and overhung
the end of the loch.
Mabel, with the key in her hand, went up to the bureau,
and, sitting down before it, unlocked it. The lid (it was
a large, round-topped secretaire) was heavy, but she suc-
ceeded in pushing it open. She opened the drawer that
Angus had mentioned, but to her surprise, for he was
very accurate, the letter was not there, and she proceeded
with her search. The drawers were all set round an arch
in the center of the bureau, with tiny ivory pillars and a
little floor of ebony and ivory diapers. There she saw
what was evidently the letter of which she was in search
on the little floor, held down by an exceedingly heavy
brass paper-weight. She took hold of it eagerly, she was
so anxious to execute well this little commission her hus-
band had given her.
Mabel had not calculated on the weight of the brass
ornament; it slipped from her hand and fell with violence
on to the ivory work. One of the little pillars was pushed
back, evidently by the jar given to some strong spring,
and under her very hand a secret drawer sprang out.
Mabel was much startled; the drawer was full of papers,
and she was about to shut it hastily when her eye was at-
tracted by one word, and she opened and read them.
Presently the bell of Angus's room pealed violently
through the house. The butler, astonished at so unusual
a sound, ran hastily to answer it.
Mabel was standing in front of the desk looking quite
awful, as he expressed it afterward, her eyes wide dis-
tended and staring, her face blanched to a deadly white-
" Lady Grisel, send Lady Grisel," she gasped.
Lady Grisel was just coming home from her walk,
when she was met by the man running to meet her with
a scared face. She did not wait till his story was over,
but rushed into her son's room.
She found Mabel lying insensible on the ground, and
strewn all over her the papers.
Lady Grisel caught them up in deadly terror: there was
no mistaking their meaning; they were Ewan and As-
sunta's marriage certificates.
Before that night telegrams were speeding over the
country: to Edinburgh for doctors; to Lady Armine,
summoning her to come without a moment's delay.
All through the night there was running to and fro,
and whispering and agonized prayers. Before the first
blue light of morning paled the sky. a son was born to
Dunmouaigh, and mother and child lay dead.
LADY GRISEL came slowly into Angus's room; be sat
before a table with his face hidden on his arms. She
stood for one moment looking down on him unable to
speak. He looked up at last with haggard eyes; she held
the fatal papers in her hands.
"Tell me,'' he burst out, "mother, was it that that
" Yes," answered Lady Grisel, stonily. " First Assuuta,
now MabeJ. "
"And what do you mean to do now?" he said, as she
sunk down on a chair.
She heard his long-drawn breath, as if he were panting
" You do not know what the temptation was," he said.
"There were no other proofs, no witnesses. Others have
survived such things, why not she? And you see I never
" Angus, spare me that; the disgrace has killed your
" Do not speak like that," he said, almost savagely:
"you will drive me more mad than I am already."
" Then spare me your excuses."
"Mother, you are as hard as stone."
She made no answer. It was a strange scene in the
early morning light: Lady Grisel pale and rigid, with a
look of concentrated agony in her face, Angus pacing the
room in his mud-spattered shooting- dress, as he had come
in the evening before. At last he said, slowly, " What
can I do?"
"Justice!" she repeated.
" To Ewan's child.''
"Does she still live?"
" We will move heaven and earth to find her, that you
may atone for your sin."
"And have you thought of me, mother?" he said,
clinching his teeth together. " Am I not also your son?
Do you know to what you would condemn me?"
" God help me," she answered, her head sinking on her
"I will not stay," he cried. "I have incurred the
penalty of the law; the law will make me a beggar; the
law will brand me as a felon a felon! Do you hear?"
Her hands wrung together.
" So I shall go," he said, " that you may not have a
felon for your son. You shall never see me more."
" Do not try to stop me, mother," lie cried, "or I shall
go quite mad] Mabel! my Mabel! my pretty Mabel! I
have a fire raging here," and he pressed his brow; "I can
gee nothing bat her eyes upbraiding me. Good God! I
" You shall, Angus. It will be better so; but not now.
You cannot leave her so."
" Say what you will, mother; that the papers have been
found. Save the honor of the old name if you can. I
will never come home to disgrace you."
Lady Griscl thought for one moment, and it seemed to
her that it might be best that he should go. She was ter-
rified at the wild bloodshot eyes and twitching hands.
"Angus!" she cried "not to-night. Can you not
stay and see her mother?"
Aery, strange and low, like the cry of some hunted ani-
mal, broke from his lips.
" Her mother!" he cried; " how can I meet her? How
have I kept my trust?"
" Mabel loved you," she said, faintly, hoping to touch
some softening chord: "she loved you, Angus."
" And I have killed her. Let me go."
He sprang toward the door; then suddenly coming back,
lie said, " I will write to you from London. I shall wait
there till the child is found, but I will never come home."
" Will you not look at her once more, Angus? She
looks very beautiful; she forgave you and loved you; your
name was the last on her lips. Oh, my boy, do not go
" I cannot. You are cruel, mother you torture me."
She clung passionately to him.
"Angus! you whom I have loved beyond all others in
this cruel world! you for whom I would have died, listen
" Oh, mother, mother!"
"I forgive you! Mabel has forgiven you, Angus
make Ewan's child forgive you in his name and his wife's;
then down on your knees and pray, and wrestle for a
blessing, and in God's own time He will also forgive my
" I will, God help me; let me go."
He crossed the hall, drew back the bolts, and went
down upon the steps.- She stood watching him as he un-
did the boat and stepped into it, her hands clasped in tear-
" One last good-by," she said, stretching out her arms
" No, no! I am not worthy f be answered.
He drew himself from her clinging arms, she saw him
bending to the oars, and the little boat speeding across the
Long white streaks shone in the sky, brightening and
brightening till they suddenly gleamed down like blades
of shining steel athwart the loch, and the sun rose up,
cold and white and brilliant.
Lady Grisel shivered, and the bitter cold of early morn-
ing chilled her through and through; she turned and went
to Mabel's room and knelt down by her side.
Mabel was beautiful in death, she had smiled when they
laid her baby in her arms, and the smile had rested there;
all that might have been of grief and agony could never
touch her now; and Lady Grisel kneeling by her, could
only utter again and again, "Thank Gol, oh thank God,
that He has taken her home!"
About eleven o'clock that night poor Lady Armine
arrived. Lady Grisel met her at the door, and her face
told the tale her dry lips could not utter. Too late. The
mother's grief at first was overwhelming. She had loved
Mabel even more than her other children; there had
always been something so clinging, so dependent about
the child, that she had been their veriest darling.
Lady Grisel told the whole story without omitting one
fact or making one excuse. It came from her lips as if
wrung from her by the torture of the rack, but she told
it all. She braced herself to bear the reproaches, the
hard words she awaited, and she would have borne them
all and thought that little; but instead of that, Lady
Armine threw her kind arms round her neck, saying
"Ah, Grisel, how much we both have suffered!"
Then came to her the relief of passionate tears. Lady
Grisel felt drawn inexpressibly to her, and she poured out
to her how dearly she had loved Mabel, how hard she
had striven to make her happy; and then all her terror
and anguish over Angus came out, and the old story of
having misunderstood and thwarted Ewan.
"I have ruined my sons!" she cried, in the strong self-
abasement of a proud nature brought low; and Lady
Armine found her oivn best comfort in trying to sustain
Toward the evening of the following day Lord Armine
and Mildred arrived; and all had to be goue over again.
Whon night came they were all worn out, and all went
to rest but Lady Grisel. She could not sleep; in vain she
closed her eyes and tried to lull her aching thoughts.
She could not rest: she wandered among the empty rooms
down stairs; she took up the book Mabel was reading,
the drawing on which she had been intent only two days
ago; she found her long letter to Mildred on her desk,
the half- finished designs for the setting of the diamonds,
in which she had taken such a childish delight, all just
as it had been, and at last tears came to her relief.
The nest morning she had a long interview with Lord
Armine. He strongly advised that no unnecessary mys-
tery should be made, that the world should be told that
the marriage of Ewan Macmonach had been proved by
the finding of the necessary papers, and that Angus, glad
to have something to do in the first agony of his bereave-
ment, had gone away to look for the lost heir. As soon
as the funeral should be over, they must at once take
steps to make restitution to Ewan's child.
Lord Armine went up to the manse to see and talk over
matters with the old Minister.
Master Malcolm was terribly shaken and distressed by
all that had happened. He seemed so feeble and old, that
at first Lord Armine thought that he would be of no use;
but his memory was clear when he had recovered suf-
ficiently to collect his thoughts, and he supplied him with
dates and names, and the address of the old shop in Edgar
Street, Soho. He considered it sufficient ground to work
The sad day came at last, the funeral of the bride
who had come to Dunmonaigh but one year ago. All the
people iti the country-side thronged together, and many
eyes were wet with tears, and there were wondering mui-
murs at the absence of Angus Macmonach.
Two days after, Lady Grisel allowed herself to be per-
suaded to accompany the Armines to London, whither
Lord Armine wished to return. Her silver-gray hair had
grown as white as snow.
LA.DY NOBTOX and the Levels lingered on at Fontaine-
bleau. The weather was charming with all the fresh
sweetness of the air of France, and Andrew daily gained
strength. Jaques joined them for a few days, and to
talk to him seemed to do the old man real and lasting
good. Poor Jaques! always covering strong feelings with
uncouth reserve, no one knew how he missed the ever-
ready sympathy poor Nannie had always given him. He
devoted himself to Andrew with a touching devotion,
obeying and forestalling his every wish. It was a great
grief to him that he had been unable to obey Perdita's
summons to Badfeld; but be had been wandering in
Spain in pursuit of old Spanish specimens of bookbind-
ing, and his estimate of Bis own importance was so very
low that he seldom left his address. Jaques was obliged
to return to England after a very few days at Fontaine-
bleau, for all Andrew's affairs bad long been under his
superintendence, and they required his presence.
Perdita made friends with Miss Grey, a gentle delicate
girl of rather a sentimental low-pitched tone of mind,
that suited just now with Perdita's feelings; and they
enjoyed long rambles in the forest, and sitting in their
little garden in the warm air.
To every one's surprise, one day Jaques suddenly reap-
peared; he looked anxious and distrait, and demanded to
see Mr. Lovel alone. The two girls went out into the
garden, and Jaques sat down by the old man, who was
somewhat tremulous and nervous, at the suddenness of his
Jaques with some solemnity unfolded a "Times" which
he took from his traveling-bag, and laying it on the table
" I believe this advertisement has reference to us."
Andrew took up the paper, but his hand shook.
" Read it, Jaques," he said; and Jaques read, while a
choking feeling in his throat made his voice sound strange
" Andrew Fairdon, once bookseller iti Edgar Street,
Soho, and Anne his wife, are requested to communicate
with Messrs. Short, Browning & Short, of Lincoln's Inn.
Circumstances relating to the birth of their adopted child
will prove, on application to above, greatly to her advan-
Jaques laid the paper down. Andrew covered his face
with his hands.
" I am to lose the child," he said, in a weak, broken
" No, nothing can take her love from you," said Jaques.
" But this must be inquired into; it will remove all ob-
stacles to her marriage."
" Obstacles!" exclaimed Andrew; " what do you mean?
Of course it must be inquired into," he said, rather pet-
tishly, " and I must be on the spot to do it. I will go
with you to London, Jaques."
"And leave the ladies here?"
" Yes; if Lady Norton will have Perdita, I will tell her,
but I will not have the child disturbed; do you hear?"
"No," said Jaques, sadly; "she will know soon enough."
Accordingly, Mr. Lovel and Jaques set off by them-
selves, leaving Perdita greatly wondering and disturbed
at their mysterious proceedings.
About a week passed, then Lady Norton told Perdita
that she had heard from Mr. Lovel, and that she was going
to take her and Miss Grey to London.
Perdita was bewildered, but she packed up her things,
and with regret they bade adieu to lovely, sunny Fontaiue-
bleau, gave their last handful of bread to the oH carp,
and started homeward.
They had to leave Paris very early to catch the tidal
train, and it was nearly seven o'clock before, dusty and
weary, they reached their destination, Thomas's Hotel, in
Andrew and Jaques were there to receive them. An-
drew looked far better and more animated. The necessi-
ty for exertion had done him good. He had secured a
sitting-room for Perdita, and there, holding her hand,
with tears in his eyes, told her that papers had been found,
and that the stain that during all these long years had
rested on her mother's name was wiped away for ever.
"They claim you, my child," said Andrew, his voice
faltering. " You are no longer all my own."
Here he thoroughly broke down; but Dita, kneeling by
his side, repeated over and over again that no name, no
new relations, could ever make her love her adopted father
"How pleased mammie would have been!" she said,
her tears overflowing when she thought of the dear one
who had never let her want a mother's tenderest love.
Andrew told her all he knew that the papers had been
found in a secret drawer of a bureau that was originally in
Ewan Macmonach's room, and it was generally supposed
that he had placed them there for additional safety.
" Your uncle has behaved most handsomely, Perdita,"
he said. " His one wish and that of Lady Grisel his
mother, is to see you in full possession of your own as soon
as possible. To-morrow he is coming here, anxious to
have one interview with you before he leaves England.
His wife's death has shattered him," said he, feelingly.
Perdita lay long awake that night, her mind in a whirl
The next morning she had scarcely finished breakfast
before Angus Macmonach arrived.
" Your uncle, Perdita," said Andrew, rather pompous-
ly. And he left them alone together.
Angus was dressed in deep mourning, and his face
was pale and haggard.
" You have been told?" he said, abruptly and sitting
down in front of Perdita, he pushed the damp hair back
from his brow.
" Yes," she said gently; "and I am very glad. It is
untold joy to know that I may honor my father's memory
as I do my mother's; bat," slie added, putting out her
hand and touching his, " the money is nothing to me. I
cannot bear that you should leave Dunmonaigh. I am
grieved for you; and you have been so noble, so generous,
in thus seeking me out."
"Hush!" he cried. "Stop! you do not know what
you say." There was such a sound of acute pain in his
voice that Perdita started: he suddenly bent forward,
"Can you keep a secret?" he said, hoarsely.
" Yes," she answered. He rose and walked thrice up
and down, then suddenly flinging himself into a chair he
' ' Ewan and I were nearly of an age, and people say that
two such brothers are generally inseparable. It was never
so with us; the nurses used to say, this child is his father's
own, and this his mother's. Fortune plays strange tricks:
if I had been the eldest, he the younger son, neither would
have suffered as we did. My father never cared for me,
my mother idolized me. Ewan would have loved me if I
had willed it so; but I saw that I, the cleverer one, with
better intellect and stronger powers, was hedged in, crush-
ed on every side, for want of that wealth he valued so lit-
tle. There are moments (and this is one) in which men
speak their thoughts straight out. I knew myself to pos-
sess the stronger mind and intellect. I envied his rare
beauty, his attractiveness, the influence he possessed over
others, which in my hands would have been a tower of
strength, and in his was only a means of attaching person-
al love. I never tried to curb my jealousy, and it became
the strongest passion of my life.
"Then came a day on which once more my hopes were
raised. Do not shrink back! human nature is complex.
I swear I did net desire my brother's death, but he was
dying, and I did desire the power that would come to me.
"It was near, in my very hand; and, mark you, I was
unjustly used by fortune. I was given faculties that I
could never develop, hopes never to be fulfilled, visions
never to be grasped. Good heavens! the bitterness of that
moment is engraven on my brain! All shattered in a
moment, I knew that I was again what I had been before
that that woman was my brother's wife, that child his
"You knew it?" Perdita recoiled from him.
" Listen; despise me as you will, but hear mo to the
end. It was night, my mother was asleep, not a creature
stirring in the house, no human being shared the tumult
of my soul, no prayer for me was going up to Heaven, and
1 had to fight the fight alone with a tempter who called
to his aid every jealous thought, every devil that had
triumphed in my soul since I had grown to hate my
brother. I rose up and paced my room. It was a
wonderful moonlit night there was light for my purpose.
I crossed the loch; the keys fitted; I took the papers from
old Malcolm's care, and filled the packet with blank paper,
gealed it with this, my brother's sisuet-ring, and home,"
Perdita leant back in her chair, her face covered with
her hands. He went on:
"I never destroyed the papers, remember! I would not
have done that." The man's warped nature always dwelt
on this as on a merit; his voice became hoarse. " They
came with their proofs, and I had to sit there, and see her
heart break before my eyes; but I bore it, I had strength
then, it is gone now. AncLsince I have seen you, I see
again her haunting eyes, appealing first, then wild with
a terrible despair. She went away, hide your face; do
not look at me, she went away. I wrote to her un-
known to all. I sent her a hundred, then two hundred
pounds. It never reached her, for before then she was
dead; she died of a broken heart. If she had lived I
do not know I might have righted her; but she died,
leaving a nameless pauper child."
Perdita sprang from her chair and stood looking at
him with dilated eyes and panting breath. He breathed
hard, and with a sudden change of voice went on:
" Years passed, and I suppose that I must have for-
gotten her, but I was not happy. Not in all myjife have
I been what the world calls happy. I have been haunted
by the past; the reasonings of years never laid the specter
of remorse, and when I had schooled my life to a calm
and even level, now and then would come over me a cold
nervous shiver, an agony of fear, and it was long before I
was myself again. Years passed, you know the rest."
Perdita was trembling from head to foot.
'' I had an idle dream that a young sweet wife would
lull these thoughts to rest. I thought, believe me, I thought
indeed that my brother's child was dead. I taught my-
self to be certain that it was so. I brought her home to
Dunmonaigh, my little wife, and then I prayed. I asked
God to let me love her, and let her sweet nature soften
the cold hardness of my heart. I prayed, but I had not
made restitution, and my prayer was denied!"
Perdita softly laid her hand upon his arm.
" You knew Mabel," he went on; " you knew what she
was how sweet, and young, and gay! You can recall her
image, with her soft hair and her loving eyes. Who
could see her and not love her! And yet I was hard and
harsh to her. Too long self-suppressed, I dreaded emo-
tion. I dared not give rein to any feeling, whether of
joy or hope or love. I was cold to her. I did not even
love her then, for a barrier seemed to keep ns apart. She
did not understand me, and I dreaded lest she should.
I prayed then, but my prayer was denied."
He paused, panting, then went on:
"Then then, you know, she found those papers; and
oh God! the discovery killed her. My mother uttered
words that never will leave my memory ' First Assunta,
now Mabel.' I was shooting on Benichon, and they bid
me come home, and I was too late: not one word not one.
My God was a Nemesis. 1 have not known one moment's
rest since my wife died."
Angus covered his face with his hands, and wept with
the awful overwhelming grief of a strong man crushed.
Perdita, terrified and in sore trouble, knew not what to
do, but gently stroked his knee.
Presently he raised his head, and took her hand in both
of his. " I have but one hope in life now," he said, " and
that is, that you, in their names and your own, will for-
"I do I forgive you, as I hope to be forgiven; and in
my father's and my mother's names I pray to God to for-
give you freely."
He pressed her hand to his lips, then rose up.
" Good-by," he said "I am going abroad; perhaps I
may never return again. You will take care of my
mother, will you not?"
"I will indeed."
" And try to be to her what she was?"
" I will try."
He looked at her very wistfully. " Perdita," he said,
"you loved Mabel; you knew her very well; tell me, was
she very unhappy?"
Perdita could not speak, the tears rained down her
cheeks. She had only had one little heart-broken note
from Mabel; telling her that marriage was a sad and
miserable thing. Angus looked at her fixedly.
"Do not answer me," he said, "only say good-by; I
Once more he kissed her hand, and left the room.
Perdita sat down: she was utterly bewildered by all that
had passed, and strove to collect her thoughts. Her
whole mind being intent on the one subject, she did not
hear a rapid foot cross the room, and did not look up till
Edward Norton stood before*her. In one moment she was
sobbing cm his breast. All, all had passed away this
terrible story of guilt and sorrow and bereavement and
a new and boundless heaven of joy was opening before
her. To her life's end Perdita Maemonaeh faithfully
kept the unhappy Augus's secret.
The next morning Perdita was taken to Lady Armine'i
house to see Lady Grisel.
It was a very sad meeting at first; all the black dress
and sad faces brought poor pretty Mabel vividly to Per-
dita'smind. In spite of the new bright joy that seemed
to transform her, she could not suppress her tears when
Lady Grisel took her in her arms and kissed her. Those
tears won the lonely woman's heart at once. She had
felt as if she could never love another fair young girl as
she had loved her daughter-in-law. She felt almost jeal-
ous of a youth and beauty that might try to rival Mabel
in her love. But she found not a rival but a fellow-
mourner who had known Mabel, and whom Mabel had
often spoken of as "so beautiful and so charming."
Then came a new sense of possession, for at once the
mother's eye caught the strong resemblance to her hand-
some son. The fair brow, the curve of lip and chin all
brought Ewan to her mind so much, that it seemed as if
she would never weary of tracing every line in Perdita's
Lady Grisel was anxious that the two weddings should
be soon before the winter came. They must be very
quiet, and take place in London.
The lawyers demanded at least six weeks to arrange
Perdita's elaborate settlements; and when this was to be
done, Andrew told his own views for the future. He
absolutely refused to return to Salford. He said he could
never bear the place without his wife, and he could only
be thankful that now his duty need not compel him to go
there. He would live in London with Jaques. The
estate should be absolutely settled on Perdita and her
On a cold brilliant day in the first days of November,
all signs of mourning were put aside, and Margaret Gris-
elda Macmonach and Mildred G ret hard were married.
There were anxious loving prayers going up to God all
day: -smiles for the present, and tears for the past.
On Mabel's grave Angus had caused a stone of marble,
white and pure as driven snow, to be placed, and on it, in
small letters, carved
Aged 20 years,
HER INFANT SON.
" Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him:
but weep sore for him that goeth away; for h
shall return no more, nor see Iris native country."
The Ghost of Charlotte Cray.
MR. SIGISMUND BRAGGETT was sitting in the little room
he called his study, wrapped in a profound not to say a
mournful reverie. Now, there was nothing in the
present life nor surroundings of Mr. Braggett to account
for such a demonstration. He was a publisher and book-
seller; a man well to do, with a thriving business in the
city, and the prettiest of all pretty villas at Streatham.
And he was only just turned forty; had not a gray hair
in his head nor a false tooth in his mouth; and had been
married but three short months to one of the fairest and
most affectionate specimens of English womanhood that
ever transformed a bachelor's quarters into Paradise.
What more could Mr. Sigismnnd Braggett possibly
want? Nothing! His trouble lay in the fact that he had
got rather more than he wanted. Most of us have our
little peccadilloes in this world awkward reminiscences
that we would like to bury five fathoms deep, and never
hear mentioned again, but that have an uncomfortable
habit of cropping up at the most inconvenient moments;
and no mortal is more likely to be troubled with them
than a middle-aged bachelor who has taken to matrimony.
Mr. Sigismund Braggett had no idea what he was going
in for when he led the blushing Emily Primrose up to the
altar and swore to be hers, and hers only, until death
should them part. He had no conception a woman's
curiosity could be so keen, her tongue so long, and her
inventive faculties so correct. He had spent whole days
before the fatal moment of marriage in burning letters,
erasing initials, destroying locks of hair, and making offer-
ings of affection look as if he had purchased them with
his own money. But it had been of little avail. Mrs.
Braggett had swooped down upon him like a beautiful
THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRA.Y.
bird of prey, and wheedled, coaxed, or kissed him out of
half his secrets before he knew what he was about. But
he had never told her about Charlotte Cray. And now
he almost wished that he had done so, for Charlotte Cray
was the cause of his present dejected mood.
Now, there are ladies and Indies in this world. Some
are very shy, and will only permit themselves to be wooed
by stealth. Others, again, are the pursuers rather than
the pursued, and chase the wounded or the flying even to
the very doors of their stronghold, or lie in wait for them
like an octopus, stretching out their tentacles on every
side in search of victmis.
And to the latter class Miss Charlotte Cray decidedly
belonged. Not a person worth mourning over, you will
ir.iturally say. Bat, then, Mr. Sigismund Braggett had
not behaved well to her. She was one of the " peccadil-
loes." She was an authoress not an author, mind you,
which term smacks more of the profession than the sex
but an "authoress," with lots of the "ladylike" about
the plots of her stories and meter of her rhymes. They
had come together in the sweet connection of publisher
and writer had met first in a dingy, dusty little office at
the back of his house of business, and laid the foundation
of their friendship with the average amount of chaffering
and prevarication that usually attend such proceedings.
Mr. Braggett ran a risk in publishing Miss Cray's
tales or verses, but he found her useful in so many other
ways that he used occasionally to hold forth a sop to
Cerberus in the shape of publicity for the sake of keeping
her 'in his employ. For Miss Charlotte Cray who was
as old as himself, and had arrived at the period of life
when women are said to pray "Any, good Lord, any!"
was really a clever woman, and could turn her hand
to most things required of her, or upon which she had
set her mind; and she had most decidedly set her mind
upon marrying Mr. Braggett, and lie to serve his own
purposes had permitted her to cherish the idea, and this
was the Nemesis that was weighing him down in the
study at the present moment. He had complimented
Miss Cray, and given her present?, and taken her out
a-pleasuring, all because she was useful to him, and did
odd jobs that no one else would undertake, and for less
than any one else would have accepted; and he had known
THE <;F CSAtlLOTTB CRAY. 5
the while that she was in love with him, and that she be-
lieved lie was in love with her.
He had not thought much of it at the time. He had
not then made up his mind to marry Emily Primrose, and
considered that what pleased Miss Cray, and harmed no
one else, was fair play for all sides. But he had come to
see things differently now. He had been married three
months, and the first two weeks had been very bitter ones
to him. Miss Cray had written him torrents of reproaches
during that unhappy period, besides calling day after day
at his office to deliver them in person. This and her
threats had frightened him out of his life. He had lived
in hourly terror lest the clerks should overhear what
passed at their interviews, or that his wife should be made
acquainted with them.
He had implored Miss Cray, both by word of mouth
and letter, to cease her persecution of him; but all tho
reply he received was thjit he was a base and perjured
man, and that she should continue to call at his office,
and write to him through the penny post, until he had
introduced her to his wife. For therein lay the height
and depth of his offending. He had been afraid to bring
Emily and Miss Cray together, and the latter resented
the omission as an insult. It was bad enough to find that
Sigismund Braggett, whose hair she wore next her heart,
and whose photograph stood as in a shrine upon her bed-
room mantelpiece, had married another woman, without
giving her even the chance of a refusal, but it was worse
still to come to a conclusion that he did not intend her to
have a glimpse into the garden of Eden he had created
Miss Cray was a lady of vivid imagination and strong
aspirations. All was not lost in her ideas, although Mr.
Braggett had proved false to the hopes he had raised.
Wives did not live for ever; and the chances and changes
of this life were so numerous, that stranger things had
happened than that Mr. Braggett might think fit to make
bett'er use of the second opportunity afforded him than he
had done of the first. But if she were not to continue
even his friend, it was too hard. But the perjured pub-
lisher had continued resolute, notwithstanding all Miss
Cray's presecution, and now he had neither seen nor heard
from her for a month; and, man-like, he was beginning
6 THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRAY.
to wonder what had become of her, and whether she had
found anybody to console her for his untruth. Mr. Brag-
gett did not wish to comfort Miss Cray himself; but he
did aot quite like the notion of her being comforted.
After all so he soliloquized he had been very cruel to
her; for the poor thing was devoted to him. How her
eyes used to sparkle and her cheek to flush when she en-
tered his office, and how eagerly she would undertake any
work for him, however disagreeable to perform! He knew
well that she had expected to be Mrs. Braggett, and it must,
have been a terrible disappointment to her when he mar-
ried Emily Primrose.
Why had he not asked her out to Violet Villa since?
What harm could she do as a visitor there? particularly if
lie cautioned her first as to the peculiarity of Mrs. Brag-
get t's disposition, and the quickness with which her
jealousy was excited. It was close upon Christmas-time,
the period when all old friends meet together and patch up,
if they cannot entirely forget, everything that has an-
noyed them in the past. Mr. Braggett pictured to him-
self the poqr old maid sitting solitary in her small rooms
at Hammersmith, no longer able to live in the expectation
of seeing his manly form at the wicket-gate, about to en-
ter and cheer her solitude. The thought smote him as a
two-edged swo:-d, and he sat down at once and penned
Miss Charlotte a note, in which he inquired after her
health, and hoped that they should soon see her at Violet
He felt much better after this note was written and
dispatched. He came out of the little study and entered
the cheerful drawing-room, and sat with his pretty wife by
the light of the fire, telling her of the lonely lady to whom
be had just proposed to introduce her.
"An old friend of mine, Emily. A clever, agreeable
woman, though rather eccentric. You will be polite to
her, I know, for my sake."
"An old woman, is she?" said Mrs. Braggett, elevating
her eyebrows. "And what do you call 'old/ Siggy, I
should like to know?"
"Twice as old as yourself, my dear five-anil- forty at
the very least, and not personable-looking, even for that
age. Yet I think you will find her a pleasant companion,
and I am sure she will be enchanted with you."
THE GHOST OP CHARLOTTE CRAY. 7
" I don't know that: clever women don't like me, as a
rule, though I don't know why."
" They are jealous of your beauty, my darling; but Miss
Cray is above such meanness, and will value you for your
" She'd better not let me catch her valuing me for
yours, 1 " responded Mrs. Braggett, with a flash of the eye
that made her husband ready to regret the dangerous ex-
periment he was about to make of bringing together two
women who had each, in her own way, a claim upon him,
and each the will to maintain it.
So he dropped the subject of Miss Charlotte Cray, and
took to admiring his wife's complexion instead, so that
the evening passed harmoniously, and both parties were
For two days Mr. Braggett received no answer from
Miss Cray, which rather surprised him. He had quite
expected that on the reception of his invitation she would
rush down to his office and into his arms, behind the
shelter of the ground- glass door that inclosed his chair of
authority. For Miss Charlotte had been used on occa-
sions to indulge in rapturous demonstrations of the sort,
and the remembrance of Mrs. Braggett located in Violet
Villa would have been no obstacle whatever to her. She
believed she had a prior claim to Mr. Braggett How-
ever, nothing of the kind happened, and the perjured
publisher was becoming strongly imbued with the idea
that he must go out to Hammersmith and see if he could
not make his peace with her in person, particularly as he
had several odd jobs for Christmastide, which no one
could undertake so well as herself, when a letter with a
black-edged border was put into his hand. He opened it
mechanically, not knowing the writing; but its contents
shocked him beyond measure.
"HONORED SIR, I am sorry to tell you that Miss Cray died at
my house ;i week ago, and was buried yesterday. She spoke of you
leveral times during her last illness, and if you would like to hear
any further particulars, and will call on me at the old address, I
shall be most happy to furnish you with them. Yours respectfully,
" MARY THOMPSON."
When Mr. Braggett read this news, you might have
knocked him over with a feather. It is not always true
that a living dog is better than a dead liou. Some people
8 THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRAY.
gain considerably in the estimation of their friends by
leaving this world, and Miss Charlotte Cray was one of
them. Her persecution had ceased for ever, and her
amiable weaknesses were alone held in romembrance.
Mr. Braggett felt a positive relief in the knowledge that
his dead friend and his wife would never now be
^ brought in contact with each other; but at the same
time he blamed himself more than was needful, per-
haps, for not having seen nor communicated with Miss
Cray for so long before her death. He came down to
breakfast with a portentously grave face that morning,
and imparted the sad intelligence to Mrs. Braggett with
the air of an undertaker. Emily wondered, pitied, and
sympathized, but the dead lady was no more to her than
any other stranger; and she was surprised her husband
looked so solemn over it all. Mr. Braggett, however,
could not dismiss the subject easily from his mind. It
haunted him during the business hours of the morning,
and as soon as he could conveniently leave his office, lie
posted away to Hammersmith. The little house in which
Miss Cray used to live looked just the same, both inside
and outside: how strange it seemed that she should have
flown away from it for ever! And here was her landlady,
Mrs. Thompson, bobbing and courtesy ing to him in the
same old black net cap with artificial flowers in it, and
the same stuff gown she had worn since he first saw her,
with her apron in her hand, it is true, ready to go to her
eyes as soon as a reasonable opportunity occurred, but
otherwise the same Mrs. Thompson as before. And yet
she would never wait upon her again:
" It was all so sudden, sir," she said, in answer to Mr.
Braggett's inquiries, " that there was no time to send for
"But Miss Cray had my address."
"Ah! perhaps so; but she was off her head, poor dear,
and couldn't think jf nothing. But she remembered
you, sir, to the last; for the very morning she died, sho
sprung up in bed and called out, ' Sigismund! Sigismund!'
as loud as ever she could, and she never spoke to anybody
afterward, not one word."
"She left no message for me?"
"None, sir. I asked her the day before she went if I
was to say nothing to you for her (knowing you was such
THE GHOST OF CHARLOTi'E CRAY. 9
friends), and all her answer was, ' I wrote to him. He's
got my letter.' So I thought, perhaps, you had heard,
" Not for some time past. It seems terribly sudden to
me, not having heard even of her illness. Where is she
" Close by in the churchyard, sir. My little girl will
go with you and show you the place, if you'd like to see
Mr. Braggett accepted her offer and left.
When lie was standing by a heap of clods they called a
grave, and had dismissed the child, he drew out Miss
Cray's last letter, which he carried in his pocket, and
read it over.
" You tell me that I am not to call at your office again, except on
business " (so it ran), " nor to send letters to your private address,
lest it should come to the knowledge of your wife, and create un-
pleasantness between you; but I shall call, and I shall write, until I
have seen Mrs. Braggett, and, if you don't take care, I will intro-
duce myself to her and tell her the reason you have been afraid to
This letter had made Mr. Braggett terribly angry at
the time of reception. He had puffed and fumed, and
cursed Miss Charlotte by all his gods for daring to threaten
him. But he read it with different feelings now Miss
Charlotte was down there, six feet beneath the ground he
stood on, and he could feel only compassion for her frenzy,
and resentment against himself for having excited it. As
he traveled home from Hammersmith to Streatham, he
was a very dejected publisher indeed.
He did not tell Mrs. Braggett the reason of his melan-
choly, but it affected him to that degree that he could not
go to office on the following day, but stayed at home in-
stead, to be petted and waited* upon by his pretty wife,
which treatment resulted in a complete cure. The next
morning, therefore, he started for London as briskly as
ever, and arrived at office before his usual time. A clerk,
deputed to receive all messages for his master, followed
him behind the ground-glass doors, with a packet of let-
" Mr. Van Ower was here yesterday, sir. He will let
you have the copy before the end of the week, and Messrs.
Hanley's foreman called on particular business, and will
10 THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRAY.
look in to-day at eleven. And Mr. Ellis came to ask if
there was any answer to his letter yet; and Miss Cray
called, sir; and that's all."
" Wlio did you say?'' cried Braggett.
" Miss Cray, sir. She waited for yon above an hour,
but I told her I thought you couldn't mean to come into
town at all, so she went."
"Do you know what you're talking about, Hewetson?
You said Miss Cray /"
" And I meant it, sir Miss Charlotte Cray. Burns
spoke to her as well as I."
"Good heavens!" exclaimed Mr. Braggett, turning as
white as a sheet. "Go at once and send Burns to me."
"Burns, who was the lady that called to see me yester-
" Miss Cray, sir. She had a very thick veil on, and she
looked so pale that I asked her if she had been ill, and
she said 'Yes.' She sat in the office for over an hour,
hoping you'd come in, but as you didn't, she went away
"Did she lift her veil?"
" Not whilst I spoke to her, sir."
" How do you know it was Miss Cray, then?"
The clerk stared. " Well, sir, we all know her pretty
well by this time."
"Did you ask her name?"
"No, sir; there was no need to do it.'*
"You're mistaken, that's all, both you and Hewetson.
It couldn't have been Miss Cray! I know for certain
that she is is is not in London at present. It must
have been a stranger."
" It was not, indeed, sir, begging your pardon. I could
tell Miss Cray anywhere, by her figure and her voice, with-
out seeing her face. But I did see her face, and remarked
how awfully pale she was just like death, sir!"
" There! there! that will do! It's of no consequence,
and you can go back to your work."
But any one who had seen Mr. Braggett, when left
alone in hia office, would not have said he thought the
matter of no consequence. The perspiration broke out
upon his forehead, although it was December, and ho
THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRAY. 11
rocked himself backward and forward in his chair with
At last he rose hurriedly, upset his throne, and dashed
through the outer premises in the face of twenty people
waiting to speak to him. As soon as he could find his
voice, he hailed a hansom, and drove to Hammersmith.
Good Mrs. Thompson opening the door to him, thought
he looked as if he had just come out of a fever.
' ' Lor' bless me, sir! whatever's the matter?"
" Mrs. Thompson, have you told me the truth aboufc
Miss Cray? Is she really dead?"
"Really dead, sir! Why, I closed her eyes, and put her
in the coffin with my own hands! If she ain't dead, I
don't know who is! But if you doubt my word, you'd
better ask the doctor that gave the certificate for her."
'' What is the doctor's name?"
"Dodson; he lives opposite."
"You must forgive my strange questions, Mrs. Thomp-
son, but I have had a terrible dream about my poor friend,
and I think I should like to talk to the doctor about her.''
"Oh, very good, sir," cried the landlady, much offend-
ed. "I'm not afraid of what the doctor will tell you.
She had excellent nursing and everything as she could
desire, and there's nothing on my conscience on that
score, so I'll wish you good morning." And with that
Mrs. Thompson slammed the door in Mr. Braggett's face.
He found Dr. Dodson at home.
" If I understand you rightly," said the practitioner,
looking rather steadfastly in the scared face of his visitor,
"you wish, as a friend of the late Miss Cray's, to see a
copy of the certificate of her death? Very good, sir;
here it is. She died, as you will perceive, on the twenty-
fifth of November, of peritonitis. She had, I can assure
you, every attention and care, but nothing could have
"You are quite sure, then, she is dead?" demanded Mr.
Braggett, in a vague manner.
The doctor looked at him as if he were not quite sure
if he were sane.
"If seeing a patient die, and her corpse coffined and
buried, is being sure she is dead, /am in no doubt what-
ever about Miss Cray."
" It is very strange most strange and unaccountable/'
12 THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRAY.
murmured poor Mr. Braggetfc, in reply, as he shuffled out
of the doctor's passage, and took his way back to the
Here, however, after an interval of rest and a strong
brandy and soda, he managed to pull himself together,
and to come to the conclusion that the doctor and Mrs.
Thompson could not be mistaken, and that, consequently,
the clerks must. He did not mention the subject again
to them, however; and as the days went on, and nothing
more was heard of the mysterious stranger's visit, Mr.
Braggett put it altogether out of his mind.
At the end of a fortnight, however, when he was think-
ing of something totally different, young Hewetson re-
marked to him, carelessly,
" Miss Cray was here again yesterday, sir. She walked
in just as your cab had left the door."
All the horror of his first suspicions returned with
double force upon the unhappy man's mind.
" Don't talk nonsense!" he gasped, angrily, as soon as
he could speak. " Don't attempt to play any of your
tricks on me, young man, or it will be the worse for you,
1 can tell you."
'Tricks, sir," stammered the clerk. "I don't know
what yon are alluding to. I am only telling you the truth.
You have always desired me to be most particular in let-
ting you know the names of the people who call in your
absence, and I thought I was only doing my duty in mak-
ing a point of ascertaining them "
"Yes, yes! Hewetson, of course," replied Mr. Brag-
gett, passing his handkerchief over his brow, "and you
are quite right in following my directions as closely as
possible; only in this case you are completely mistaken,
and it is the second time you have committed the error."
"Yes! as mistaken as it is possible for a man to bo!
Miss Cray could not have called at this office yesterday."
"'But she did, sir."
"Am I laboring under some horrible nightmare?" ex-
claimed the publisher, " or are we playing at cross pur-
poses? Can yon mean the Miss Cray I mean?"
"I am speaking of Miss Charlotte Cray, sir, the author
of 'Sweet Gwendoline,' the lady who has undertaken so
much of our compilation the last two years, and who haa
THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRAY. 13
along nose, and wears her hair in curls. I never knew
there was another Miss Cray; but if there are two, that is
the one I mean."
"Still T at/mot believe it. Hewetson, for the Miss Cray
who has been associated with our 3rm died on the twenty-
fifth of last month."
"Dial, sir! Is Miss Cray dead? Oh, it can't be! It's
some humbugging trick that's been played upon you, for
I'd swear she was in this room yesterday afternoon, as
full of life as she's ever been since I knew her. She didn't
talk much, it's true, for she seemed in a hurry to be off
again, but she had got on the same dress and bonnet she
was in here last, and she made herself as much at home in
the office as she ever did. Besides," continued Hewetson,
as tho.igh suddenly remembering something, "she left a
note for you, sir."
' A note! "Why did you not say so before?"
" It slipped my memory when you began to doubt my
word in that way, sir. But you'll find it in the bronze
vase. She told me to tell you she had placed it there."
Mr. Braggett made a dash at the vase, and found the
three-cornered note as he had been told. Yes! it was
Charlotte's handwriting, or the facsimile of it, there was
no doubt of that; and his hands shook so he could hardly
open the paper. It contained these words:
" You tell me that I am not to call at your office again, except on
business, nor to send letters to your private address, lest it should
come to the knowledge of your wife, and create unpleasantness
en you; but I ahaR calf, and I flmll write until 1 have seen
Mrs. Braggett, and if you don't take care I will introduce myself to
her, and tell her the reason 3*011 have been afraid to do so."
Precisely the same words, in the same writing of the
letter he still carried in his breast pocket, and which no
mortal eyes but his and hers had ever seen. As the un-
happy man sat gazing at the opened note, his whole body
shook as if he were attacked by ague.
. " It is Miss Cray's handwriting, isn't it, sir?"
"It looks like it, Hewetson. but it cannot be. I tell
you it is an impossibility! Miss Cray died last month,
and I have seen not only her grave, but the doctor and
nurse who attended her in her last illness. It is folly,
then, to suppose either that she called here or wrote that
14 THE GHOST OP CHARLOTTE CRAY.
" Then who could it have been, sir?" said Hewetson,
attacked with a sudden terror in his turn.
v That is impossible for rne to say; but should the lady
eall again, you had better ask her boldly for her name and
" I'd rather you'd depute the office to anybody but me,
sir," replied the clerk, as he hastily backed out of the
Mr. Braggett, dying with suspense and conjecture, went
tli rough his business as best he could, and hurried home
to Violet Villa.
There he found that his wife had been spending the
day with a friend, and only entered the house a few min-
utes before himself.
" Siggy, dear!" she commenced, as soon as he joined
her in the drawing-room after dinner; "I really think we
should have the fastenings and bolts of this house looked
to. Such a funny thing happened while I was out this
afternoon. Ellen has just been telling me about it."
" What sort of a thing, dear?"
" Well, I left home as early as twelve, you know, and
told the servants I shouldn't be back until dinner- time;
so they were all enjoying themselves in the kitchen, I
suppose, when cook told Ellen she heard a footstep in the
drawing-room. Ellen thought at first it must be cook's
fancy, because she was sure the front door was fastened;
but when they listened, they all heard the noise together,
so she ran upstairs, and what on earth do you think she
" How can I guess, my dear?"
" Why, a lady, seated in this very room, as if she was
waiting for somebody. She was oldish, Ellen says, and
had a very white face, with long curls hanging down each
side of it; and she wore a blue bonnet with white feath-
ers, and a long black cloak, and "
"Emily, Emily! Stop! You don't know what you're
talking about. That girl is a fool: you must send her
away. That is, how could the lady have got in if the
door was closed? Good Heavens! you'll all drive me mad
between you with your folly!" exclaimed Mr. Braggett,
as he threw himself back in his chair, with an exclamation
that sounded very like a groan.
Pretty Mrs. Braggett was offended. What had she said
THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRAY. 15
or done that her husband should doubt her \vord? She
tossed her iiead in indignation, and remained silent. If
Mr. Braggett wanted any further information, he would
have to apologize.
"Forgive me, darling," he said, after a long pause. I
don't think I'm very well this evening, but your story
seemed to upset me."
" I don't see why it should upset you," returned Mrs.
Braggett. "If strangers are allowed to come prowling
about the house in this way, we shall be robbed some day,
and then you'll say I should have told you of it."
" Wouldn't she this person give her name?"
" Oh! I'd rather say no more about it. You had better
" No, Emily! I'd rather hear it from you."
" Well, don't interrupt me again, then. When Ellen
saw the woman seated here, she asked her her name and
business at once, but she gave no answer, and only sat
and stared at her. And so Ellen, feeling very uncomfort-
able, had just turned round to call up cook, when the
woman got up, and dashed past her like a flash of light-
ning, and they saw nothing more of her!"
" Which way did she leave the house?"
" Nobody knows any more than how she came in. The
servants declare the hall door was neither opened nor
shut but, of course, it must have been. She was a tall
gaunt woman, Ellen says, about fifty, and she's sure her
hair was dyed. She must have come to steal something,
and that's why I say we ought to have the house made
more secure. Why, Siggy! Siggy! what's the matter?
Here, Ellen! Jane! come quick, some of you! Your
And, sure enough, the repeated shocks and horrors of
the day had had such an effect upon poor Mr. Braggett,
that for a moment he did lose all consciousness of what
surrounded him. He was thankful to take advantage of
the Christmas holidays, to run over to Paris with his wife,
and try to forget, in the many marvels of that city, the
awful fear that fastened upon him at the mention of any-
thing connected with home. He might be enjoying him-
self to the top of his bent; but directly the remembrance
of Charlotte Cray crossed his mind, all sense of enjoyment
vanished, and he trembled at the mere thought of re-
16 THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRAY.
turning to his business, as a child does when sent to bed
in the dark.
He tried to hide the state of his feelings from Mrs.
Braggett, but she was too sharp for him. The simple,
blushing Ernily Primrose had developed, under the influ-
ence of the matrimonial forcing-frame, into a good watch-
dog, and nothing escaped her notice.
Left to her own conjecture, she attributed his frequent
moods of dejection to the existence of some other woman,
and became jealous accordingly. If Siggy did not love
her, why had he married her? She felt certain there was
some other horrid creature who had engaged his affections
and would not leave him alone, even nosv that he was her
own lawful property. And to find out who the "horrid
creature " was became Mrs. Emily's constant idea. When
she had found out, she meant to give her a piece of her
mind, never fear! Meanwhile Mr. Braggett's evident
distaste to returning to business only served to increase
his wife's suspicions. A clear conscience, she argued,
would know no fear. So they were not a happy couple, as
they set their faces once more toward England. Mr.
Braggett's dread of re-entering his office amounted almost
to terror, and Mrs. Braggett, putting this and that to-
gether, resolved that she would fathom the mystery, if it
lay in feminine finesse to do so. She did not whisper a
word of her intentions to dear Siggy, you may be sure of
that! She worked after the manner of her amiable sex,
like a cat in the dark, or a worm boring through the
earth, and appearing on the surface when least expected.
So poor Mr. Braggett brought her home again, heavy
at heart indeed, but quite ignorant that any designs were
being made against him. I think he would have given a
thousand pounds to be spared the duty of attending office
the day after his arrival. But it was necessary, and he
went, like a publisher and a Briton. But Mrs. Emily
had noted his trepidation and his fears, and laid her plans
accordingly. She had never been asked to enter those
mysterious precincts, the house of business. Mr. Braggett
had not thought it necessary that her blooming loveliness
should be made acquainted with its dingy, dusty accesso-
ries, but she meant to see them for herself to-da} 7 . So she
waited till he had left Violet Villa ten minutes, and then
she dressed and followed him bv the next train to London*
THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRAY. 1*
Mr. Sigismund Braggett meanwhile had gone on his
way, as people go to a dentist, determined to do what was
right, but with an indefinite sort of idea that lie might
never come out of it alive. He dreaded to hear what
might have happened in his absence, and he delayed his
arrival at the office for half-an-hour, by walking there in-
stead of taking a cab as usual, in order to put off the evil
moment. As he entered the place, however, he saw at a
glance that his efforts were vain, and that something had
occurred. The customary formality and precision of the
office were upset, and the clerks, instead of bending over
their ledgers, or attending to the demands of business,
were all huddled together at one end whispering and ges-
ticulating to each other. But as soon as the publisher
appeared, a dead silence fell upon the group, and they
only stared at him with an air of horrid mystery.
' k What is the matter now?" he demanded, angrily, for-
like most men when in a fright which they are ashamed
to exhibit, Mr. Sigismund Braggett tried to cover his
want of courage by bounce.
The young man called Hewetson advanced toward him,
with a face the color of ashes, and pointed toward the
ground-glass doors dumbly.
" What do you mean? Can't you speak? What's come
to the lot of you, that you are neglecting my business in
this fashion to make fools of yourselves?"
" If you please, sir, she's in there."
Mr. Braggett started back as if he'd been shot. But
still he tried to have it out.
"She! Who's she?"
" Miss Cray, sir."
"Haven't I told you already that's a lie."
"Will you judge for yourself, Mr. Braggett?" said a
gray-haired man, stepping forward. "I was on the stairs
myself just now when Miss Cray passed me, and I have no
doubt whatever but that you will find her in your private
room, however much the reports that have lately reached
you may seem against the probability of such a thing."
Mr. Braggett's teeth chattered in his head as he ad-
vanced to the groand-glass doors, through the panes of
one of which there was a little peephole to ascertain if the
room were occupied or not. He stooped and looked in.
At the table, with her back toward him, was seated the
18 THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRAY.
well-known figure of Charlotte Cray. He recognized at
once the long black mantle in which she was wont to drape
her gaunt figure the blue bonnet, with its dejected-look-
ing, uncurled feather the lank curls which rested on her
shoulders and the black-leather bag, with a steel clasp,
which she always carried in her hand. It was the embodi-
ment of Charlotte Cray, he had no doubt of that; but
how could he reconcile the fact of her being there with
the damp clods he had seen piled upon her grave, with the
certificate of death, and the doctor's and the landlady's
assertion that they had watched her last moments?
At last he prepared with desperate energy, to turn the
handle of the door. At that moment the attention of the
more frivolous of the clerks was directed from his actions
by the entrance of an uncommonly pretty woman at the
other end of the outer office. Such a lovely creature as
this seldom brightened the gloom of their dusty abiding-
place. Lilies, roses, and carnations vied with each other
in her complexion, whilst the sunniest of locks, and the
brightest of blue eyes, lent her face a girlish charm not
easily described. What could this fashionably-attired
Venus want in their house of business?
" Is Mr. Braggett here? I am Mrs. Braggett. Please
how me in to him immediately."
They glanced at the ground-glass doors of the inner
office. They had already closed behind the manly form of
"This way, madam," one said, deferentially, as he es-
corted her to the presence of Mr, Braggett.
Meanwhile, Sigismund had opened the portals of the
Temple of Mystery, and with trembling knees entered it.
The figure in" the chair did not stir at his approach. He
stood at the door irresolute. What should he do or say?
"Charlotte," he whispered.
Still she did not move.
At that moment his wife entered.
"Oh, Sigismund!" cried Mrs. Emily, reproachfully, "I
knew you were keeping something from me, and now I've
caught you in the very act. Who is this lady, and what
is her name? I shall refuse to leave the room until I
At the sound of her rival's voice, the woman in the
chair rose quickly to her feet and confronted them. Yes!
THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CRAY. 19
there was Charlotte Cray, precisely similar to what she
had appeared in life, only with an uncertainty and vague-
ness about the lines of the familiar features that made
She stood there, looking Mrs. Emily full in the face,
but only for a moment, for, even as she gazed, the line-
aments grew less and less distinct, with the shape of the
figure that supported them, until, with a crash, the ap-
parition seemed to fall in and disappear, and the place
that had known her was filled with empty air.
" Where is she gone?" exclaimed Mrs. Braggett, in a
tone of utter amazement.
"Where is who gone?" repeated Mr. Braggett, hardly
able to articulate from fear.
" The lady in the chair!''
" There was no one there except in your own imagina-
tion. It was my great-coat that you mistook for a figure,"
returned her husband hastily, as he threw the article in
question over the back of the arm-chair.
" But how could that have been?" said his pretty wife,
rubbing her eyes. "How could I think a coat had eyes,
and hair, and features? I am sure I saw a woman seated
there, and that she rose and stared at me. Siggy! tell me
it was true. It seems so incomprehensible that I should
have been mistaken."
" You must question your own sense. You see that the
room is empty now, except for ourselves, and you know
that no one has left it. If you like to search under the
table, you can."
"Ah! now, Siggy, you are laughing at me, because you
know that would be folly. But there was certainly some
one here only, where can she have disappeared to?"
"Suppose we discuss the matter at a more convenient
season," replied Mr. Braggett, as he drew his wife's arm
through his arm. " Hewetson ! you will be able to tell Mr.
Hume that he was mistaken. Say, also, that I shall not
be back in the office to-day. I am not so strong as I
thought I was, and feel quite unequal to business. Tell
him to come out to Streatham this evening with my let-
ters, and I will talk with him there."
What passed at that interview was never disclosed; but
pretty Mrs. Braggett was much rejoiced, a short time af-
terward, by her husband telling her that he had resolved
20 THE GHOST OF CHARLOTTE CKAY.
to resign his active share of the business, and devote the
rest of his life to her and Violet Villa. He would have no
more occasion, therefore, to visit the office, and be ex-
posed to the temptation of spending four or five hours out
of every twelve away from her side. For, though Mrs.
Emily had arrived at the conclusion that the momentary
glimpse she caught of a lady in Siggy's office must have
been a delusion, she was not quite satisfied by his asser-
tions that she would never have found a more tangible
cause for her jealousy.
But Sigismnnd Braggett knew more than he chose to tell
Mrs. Emily. He knew that what she had witnessed was no
delusion, but a reality; and that Charlotte Cray had car-
ried out her dying determination to call at his office and
his private residence, until she had seen his wife !
A 000120785 1